When the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley was designated an American Viticulture Area three years ago, area wine enthusiasts predicted the number of wineries and vineyards would only grow.
They did, and April 5-7 the inaugural Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Festival will toast the region’s growing reputation as a Northwest wine destination.
The three-day festival is being presented by the Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Alliance, a consortium of area wineries and vineyards. Events will explore the unique combination of climate, geography and character of the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA and wines produced here.
“Since being designated an AVA in 2016, we were waiting for a few more wineries to come on board before having a festival. We didn’t have the mass at that point to keep people here over the weekend,” said Deb Smith, alliance coordinator.
Eight area wineries and vineyards will participate in the festival, which features special tastings, talks and a winemaker dinner. Attracting out-of-town visitors is one of the festival’s goals, and people from California, the Seattle area, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Boise have purchased tickets, Smith said.
The featured grape at this year’s festival is cabernet sauvignon, one of the original varietals planted in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley in the late 1800s.
“We wanted to build upon that history,” Smith said.
Cabernet sauvignon is often called the king of grapes because it blends well with other grapes. Most area vineyards are planting or are already producing wine made from cabernet sauvignon grapes, which grow well in the area, she said.
Not all the participating wineries produce wine with grapes grown in the region, but those that do will highlight those wines at weekend tastings. At the winemaker dinner, seven wines grown and produced in the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA will be paired with food in a six-course meal.
Weekend tasting passports are required to attend events, and all tickets must be purchased in advance.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Festival
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 5-7
WHERE: Various locations
COST: $40 to $175
TICKETS: Online at https://lewisclarkwine.com/wine-fest/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend Tasting Passport
Noon to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday, $40
A Weekend Tasting Passport features entry to eight alliance wineries with special tastings. Participating wineries and tasting rooms are: Basalt Cellars and Parejas Cellars in Clarkston; Clearwater Canyon Cellars, Spiral Rock Vineyard & Winery, Vine 46 and Two Bad Labs Vineyard/Tammany View Winery in Lewiston; and Colter’s Creek Winery locations in Juliaetta and Moscow. Passport holders also will have the opportunity to taste wines from Colter’s Creek Winery at the Blue Lantern Coffee House in Lewiston and wine from Genesee’s Jovinea Cellars at Ampersand Oil & Vinegar Taphouse in Lewiston. A map with specific times and locations is included with purchase.
Riedel Glassware Presentation
6 to 8 p.m. Friday, $85
A presentation on Riedel Glassware at Basalt Cellars will explore the history of a company that has designed and produced glasses specifically for wine drinking since 1756. A weekend tasting passport is required to participate. Participants will receive a set of four Riedel glasses.
History, Geology and Grapes Seminar and Luncheon
11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, $45
The history of the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA and the festival’s featured grape, cabernet sauvignon, will be discussed at the Quality Inn in Clarkston. Presentations will be given by Lewiston historian Steven Branting and Keegan Schmidt, a professor of earth science at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, who will talk about area geology. A panel of vineyard owners will focus on the grape’s characteristics. A weekend tasting passport is required to participate.
6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, $135
Meet area producers and winemakers over a six-course menu paired with Lewis-Clark Valley AVA wines at Mystic Cafe in Lewiston. Tickets must be purchased by Friday. Space is limited to 50 people. A weekend tasting passport is required to participate.