On August 29th, Idaho Winery Tours took four hilariously funny ladies out to the Sunny Slope. Two of them were celebrating birthdays – Traci for the Big 5-Oh, and Jen for the Big 4-two. Jannine, Traci’s sister, and Autumn, Jannine’s daughter, who had arranged their weekend trip, completed the foursome. As their guide and a guy who has seen people enjoying themselves a time or two, these ladies set the standard.
Autumn, Thaci’s niece, initiated the proceedings with a call from Utah approximately two weeks ago. Originally they wanted to head out to California and see the Napa Valley. The raucous laughter and huge smiles from the time they hopped in the mini-van to the time I saw them back to their hotel was a clear signal she’d made she right choice.
The 29th turned out to be a beautiful day. Few clouds streaked the bright blue sky above Snake River Valley, and the air was cool and dry. Late summer scents filled the air as we traveled south on Highway 55 toward the most concentrated grape growing areas of the state. We were a bit early, so I took them out to Fraser’s place and showed them a little of what it takes to produce the excellence they were about to sample. By the time they experienced the view, had a small lesson in grape farming and snapped a few photo’s the noon hour had stuck; time to get to the tasting rooms.
We really packed in the sampling. They tasted wines from six different wine makers. Some they liked, others they didn’t, but that’s the beauty of a wine tour. You take what you like and you leave the rest behind. We visited Williamson, Ste. Chapelle, Koenig, Davis Creek Cellars, Sawtooth Winery, and Indian Creek Winery(see links in the left sidebar). I also have to thank them for buying me lunch at the Orchard House where they said, and I whole heartedly agree, they had the best Potato Fries they had ever had. Six wineries in one day is an amazing feat for any tour company, but the fun didnt end there.
We snuck in to Indian Creek a minute before closing for the final taste of the day, or so the birthday girls thought. As a surprise for Traci and Jen, Autumn and Jannine had me arrange a catered private dinner. I contacted Cordel Knight who has made a name for himself around the Boise Valley as one of its premiere chefs. Cordel stayed true to form and prepared a meal that was out of this world.
Our tour landed at Racheal K’s in Eagle, a town, just to the west of Boise. Rachel, a chef of boundless talent in her own right, offered up a nice table in the front window at her street side cafe. As an added, treat Jamie Lenburg, the sommelier from 3 Horse Ranch was on hand to pair their lovely estate wines with Cordel’s fantastic creations. They had scallops with risotto paired with the Viognier, the Chardonnay with an apricot vinaigrette dressed salad, and for the main course the hearty Cab/Merlot Blend with Braised Beef and couscous. It made my mouth water then, and it’s making my mouth water now as I write.
And for desert, Cordel prepared a crème brûlée, but this was no ordinary crème brûlée. On a of light apricot and dark rasberry coulis he reconstructed his deconstructed desert. He laid a frozen square of crème brûlée upon the lightest of flakey pastries and covered it with the sugar infused top half of the pastry. It was lucky he made extra because I think I might have fought one of my guests for their share. It was the kind of desert that will make your eyes roll back in your head.
After tasting over 40 different wines, and having two delicious meals, the ladies cried “Uncle!” and made me take them home. The night ended with a spectacular lightning show to the East above the mountains of Bogus Basin and a dazzling deep red and purple sunset in the west across the plains of the high Treasure Valley benches; a perfect close to a perfect day.
Thanks for coming ladies. I’ll certainly be ready for you when you come back. Happy Birthday Traci and Jen! and thanks so much to Autumn and Jannine for adding to the fun.
Cheers and Good Cheer,
PS. If you’re going to do a tour like this one, you’ll need stretch pants, no matter your age (The running joke of the tour for those of you who weren’t there). I look forward to seeing all the great pictures you took and let me take with the great camera you brought.