Simply Elevate Issue 6 June 2013 - Page 34

Wild West of Wine Country From weaponry to wine, I made my way back to the Snake River Valley. This is the wine country of Idaho with vintages that rival almost any of its California counterparts. The valley’s moderate climate, rich volcanic soil and limited precipitation make the region an ideal viticultural area. Though Idaho was the first state in the Pacific Northwest to produce wine in the mid-1800’s, Prohibition ceased production until 1971 when fruit rancher, Dick Symms, decided to grow “a crop that could be harvested mechanically.” (Edible Idaho, Spring 2013) Since then, over fifty vineyards have been established across the state, and, in 2007, the Snake River Valley became Idaho’s first designated American Viticultural Area (AVA). Guns and Glorious ‘Scapes Since most of Idaho’s land is designated as public use regulated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it is one of the few states left where you can truly escape from it all; make your own trails and relive what it was like to be a pioneer in the west over a hundred years ago. About an hour and a half outside of Boise and five mile from a town called Prairie (population: 20), I got to revive that pioneer spirit. Rumbling down a dusty dirt road, over mountain passes, through valleys and streams; we came to a clearing nestled between basalt cliffs. This would be the site of a weeklong festival, Gemini Jamboree, hosted by local DJs and music fans. Without a soul around for miles, the Fujishin Family Cellars & Lost West Winery sense a freedom and solitude was intoxicating, and what better way to celebrate then to open up an arsenal spanning a hundred years of American gun craftsmanship. My friends and gun experts, Kent and Sven, walked me through their collection of WWI, WWII and present day assault rifles and handguns passed from fathers to sons. Through exclamations of ‘Merica!’ and ‘whoo-hoo’ every time a tin can met its demise, I got the feeling that the pioneering free spirit is still thriving in this place. 34 Martin Fujishin and his fiancé, Teresa Moye, are a dynamic duo when it comes to wine. Martin, a brilliant craftsman, and Teresa, social media guru and label designer, create the most balanced wines I have tasted in this region, perhaps in the country! This balance comes from having worked with the best vintners in the area and the relationships he has built with them. Martin grew up on his family farm along the Oregon/ Idaho border, and after returning from college, he began working with Koenig Winery and Bitner Vineyards on the side. His passion grew and he later struck out on his own; a decision he thinks was a bit brash. “It is like I came to such a great region and had the audacity to say ‘I can make great wine’. It’s crazy, but we have been fortunate and can actually say ‘We do!’” Most of his grapes come from neighboring vineyards where Martin will request a certain type of grape be grown on specific rows that he knows will produce the best fruit. This craftsmanship and dedication to quality shines bright in his ready-to-drink vintages. 35