Why this Idaho Vintner Took A Chance on an Austrian Varietal

A varietal that is cherished in Austria is now available in Idaho after a Snake River Valley winemaker became the first from the area to release it.

Huston Vineyards became the first Idaho grape producer to plant Grüner Veltliner in their estate vineyard in 2018, and the first vintage is being released this month.

Grüner Veltliner is a varietal typically associated with Austria, although it is grown throughout the world. Co-owner Gregg Alger said Huston Vineyards’ estate has exceptional growing conditions for that particular grape. 

“We love growing and making the exceptional wines for which our valley has become known, but we also enjoy venturing out of our comfort zone and creating new intrigue for wine enthusiasts,” Alger explained. “After some great vacation experiences tasting Grüners in other regions, making this wine in Idaho became an aspiration and a passion for us.”

The soil and weather in the Snake River Valley make it possible. Alger said the estate’s ilty loess soils, rich in calcium carbonate, provide for optimum vine conditions. The cooler vineyard site heightens both the aromas and acidity of the fruit. 

The Snake River Valley’s intense temperature shifts foster both consistent fruit ripening and bright crispness. 

Huston describes its wine as having aromas of lime and white pepper with flavors of honey and minerality on the mid-palate. Grüner Veltliner is bright and crisp for summer but carries enough weight to be enjoyed into fall and winter with the appropriate food pairings.

Alger, a former Idaho Wine Commission President, noted “We are so excited about the growth of the Idaho wine industry over the past decade, but there is still so much potential for exploration in our viticultural area. We are proud to be a part of what’s happening here.”

A limited quantity of the 2020 Huston Estate Grüner Veltliner was produced. It is available for purchase at the Huston Vineyards tasting room, 16473 Chicken Dinner Road, while supplies last. 

Photo courtesy of Huston Vineyards

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