Years in the making – eons really – the Snake River Valley of Idaho first petitioned for an AVA back in 2002 and finally got the nod from Federal authorities in April 2007. With this AVA approval, the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission (the petitioning body) has at last brought the now well-established growing areas of southwestern Idaho together under one meaningful appellation designation.
Overall, the new AVA is a massive area of 8,263 square miles (nearly the size of the state of New Jersey), with 90 percent of Idaho’s currently planted vineyards falling within the AVA boundaries. Vineyard acreage is rapidly on the rise, with total plantings doubling since the application was first filed and now standing at about 1800 acres.
The AVA itself is delineated by boundaries that follow the East-West oriented river from Twin Falls into southeastern Oregon. The growing areas within the AVA are tied together by the shared climate moderation provided by river induced air currents. The appellation is also distinguished by being a relatively flat river basin area ranging in elevation from 2100-3400 feet and surrounded by high mountains. Soils are variable but generally derived from lake sediments from the now dry ancient Lake Idaho.
Regarded as a high mountain cold climate desert with extreme temperatures in both summer and winter, full ripening only comes with extended hang times.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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