When the days are short and the light is low, fun things can happen. Wintertime means that the farm “to do” list is shorter and vines need to be pruned. Enjoying a glass of wine by the fire is indeed a great idea but don’t let the weather keep you from exploring the new winery at Sunnyslope Wine Trail.
On a cold winter day we ventured out Homedale road to visit one of the newest tasting rooms in Idaho, since December of 2019, Kerry Hill Winery. This is the 16th winery to open on the trail. It has a great location right next to their estate vineyard in Canyon County. The vines have had 35 years to mature on this site under previous ownership (Wood River Cellars) and have been revitalized over the past 2 + years by the folks at Kerry Hill.
Owner Mindy Mayer named Kerry Hill after the type of sheep they keep on the property. The farm honors the history of the property while it increases its stewardship of the land through habitat preservation and responsible farming practices. They respect the grapes, the pollinators, the birds and all the things that go into quality agriculture and wine out here in 2C. They even have a Basque sheepherder’s trailer that celebrates the immigrants from Europe that came to this area generations ago and helped make the intermountain west the culturally diverse and interesting place it is today.
With fewer folks out and about we had a great time visiting with Cynthia England, the General Manger. The tasting room is brand new construction but it feels comfortable and spacious with fantastic sightlines over the vineyard and the Owyhee Mountains. The woodwork by River Valley Woodworks out of Wilder is absolutely stunning. The mushroom wood doors are amazing to look at. The design work here (both inside and out) is top notch. If you're looking for a place to wow a group of friends from out of town then put this place on your list.
The 4 wines available now are being crafted by Tim Harless from Hat Ranch and Vale wines in Caldwell. The unoaked Chardonnay is crisp and refreshing, the 2 Rose’s are amazing yet very different from each other and the red blend of Cabernet, Syrah & Petit Verdot will be a great complement to the mustard/horseradish beef stew that is making the whole house smell so wonderful right now! Even if you turn your nose up at Rose wines please promise me you’ll try these two gems. They will stretch your palate and defy easy categorization. More wines are coming as the vineyards rejuvenate. Great wines are made in the vineyard and this one was in rough shape for a few years. The quality of these initial offerings only heightens the expectations of what is yet to come.
Without a doubt, Winter is an amazing time to hit the road and visit Idaho’s wine country. The colors tend toward gray and brown but the wineries are less crowded and the staff has more time to share stories and show you why Idaho is so special. On top of that you won’t have to worry about the wine you just bought getting too warm in the car!
Cheers too exploring! Get out there and see what winter wonders you can find – You won’t be disappointed!