CALDWELL — We are in the middle of harvest for Idaho wineries. The economic impact of the industry is an estimated $170 million a year in Idaho.
The hard winter of 2017 damaged vines and the fruit that came in the spring which devastated our winemakers. The good news is that this year the vines and fruit seem to be recovering.
"The vines performed well," said Meredith Smith, who is the winemaker for Ste. Chapelle and Sawtooth Wineries. This is her tenth harvest in the Snake River Valley.
"Last year we had 300 tons total," said Smith.
Smith, like many other Idaho winemakers, had to bring in additional grapes from Washington and Oregon. This year, though, she says our vineyards will produce enough - 2,500 tons are expected.
"I think the important thing is that Idaho fruit is back into the hands of the winemakers," said Smith.
She says Idaho grapes are always preferred, and that's why wineries continue to pop up around the state. There are 52 wineries now, utilizing 1,500 vineyard acres.
"There are so many opportunities in Idaho for growing fruit," said Smith. "We have our land prices that are still in check, we have water, we have the resources. We can grow a number of different varietals here all performing really well. I think everyone is very proud of Idaho fruit and so hopefully the consumers will feel the same way we do."
Smith says the grapes this year should produce a great vintage.