There are more than 8,700 wineries in the United States and around 250 recognized wine regions, or American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Some are known around the world (hello, Napa) while others remain obscure to all but a small group of locals and wine experts.
While it would take half a lifetime to properly see all of the country’s wine regions, a select number stand out as exemplary of American wine’s past, present, and future. These regions span from coast to coast and reach just as close to the country’s northern border as they do to the southern border. Today, with international travel close to non-existent, Americans who travel with wine on the mind are looking inward. The most enlightening (and, in the current era, safest) way to experience the diversity of wine is the great American road trip.
The first vineyards in the Pacific Northwest were planted in Lewiston in the 1860s and, although Idaho viticulture has had its ups and downs, the region is pumping out loads of delicious wine. All people have to do is get out and give some a try.
Taking a tour of the Idaho wine country can be done in a variety of ways. People could spend a day or more visiting local wineries and some are even located in Garden City making a tour of Idaho wines possible for anyone who wants to try some out. All of the wineries have ample space for social distancing, are mostly run by Idaho families, and many allow dogs and kids.
Located in Garden City, Telaya Winery is a name derived from The Tetons and la playa, the Spanish term for “beach,” because these are the owner’s, Earl and Carrie Sullivan’s, favorite places. They wanted to start a business where they would feel intellectually stimulated and be able to spend more time with their family.
“As an urban winery our benefit is more accessibility,” said Earl. “We’re right on the Greenbelt, we have our production space here and people can tour the facility. We focus on high-end product and hospitality.”
Telaya has a lot to offer an urban wine enthusiast (“oenophile”). The winery has tastings and tours called the “Telaya Experience,” where people can try wines with a guide. Due to COVID-19, Telaya is now hosting “micro-events,” small events with wine and food pairings that teach people about wine and incorporate another business in the community.
The winery currently sells around 13 wines with some only available to club members. Earl and Carrie take a scientific approach to wine, and Earl said it’s all about chemistry. They blend the best grapes they can find in Idaho, and as their operation has grown, even designating plots in other vineyards for their winery.
During the shutdown, the winery also expanded its conference room to allow for business events, and has found a way to offer the “Telaya Experience” virtually. For this, the winery bottles up mini versions of the wine people can pick up or have delivered, and set up the tasting virtually through Zoom.
“We want to make wine accessible and approachable,” said Earl. “It’s not a white collar thing; there’s a wine and a price point for everyone on earth, and Idaho wines can stand up to the rest of the world.”
Join our email list