Greg Koenig’s upscale new tasting room re-envisions the future of Idaho wine, and his product backs it up.
GREG KOENIG, IDAHO’S most prolific winemaker, realized a 20-year dream last fall when he opened his new 7,000-square-foot tasting room in the heart of Idaho wine country.
Koenig, who grew up in Sun Valley and studied architecture at the University of Notre Dame, designed and built the new Koenig Vineyards facility in the Sunnyslope wine district some 45 miles west of downtown Boise. The original winery now houses his brother’s distillery.
When you arrive at Koenig, it feels like a plaza off the Grand Canal in Venice or some Tuscan hill town.
Three to try
These three Koenig wines are available directly from the winery, which is happy to ship to Washington.
Koenig Vineyards 2014 reserve Hells Canyon Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $30: This sturdy red explodes with classic aromas of purple plum, black currants and a hint of molasses. Big flavors of dark, ripe red fruit will hold up to any cut of meat. This will age well for a decade, or consider decanting.
Koenig Vineyards 2014 The Devil’s Bedstead zinfandel, Snake River Valley, $25: This profound wine might be the top zin in the Northwest. This remarkable red is named after a favorite mountain in the Pioneer range. It is redolent with aromas and flavors of just-picked raspberries drizzled with chocolate sauce, then bursting with bright acidity and flavors of Rainier cherries.
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Botrytis Single Berry Select late harvest riesling, Snake River Valley, $30: This remarkable dessert wine is made in the style of a German trockenbeerenauslese (troch-en-bare-en-oush-lease), rare anywhere in the world. It opens with spicy aromas of lavender blossoms and honey, followed by flavors of baked nectarines, agave nectar and creme brulee. It won Best of Show at last year’s Idaho Wine Competition.
The brick patio, spacious tasting room and three-story tower with panoramic views are surrounded by seven acres of Koenig’s estate vines, the adjacent Williamson Orchards and Vineyards and scenic farmland. The Snake River flows through the valley below with a backdrop of the majestic Owyhee Mountains.
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The estate would fit in perfectly in Napa Valley or on the outskirts of Sonoma.
Where it doesn’t exactly fit is in the Snake River Valley, where the wine industry is dominated by utilitarian tasting rooms tucked amid bigger agriculture operations. Koenig’s upgraded digs are going to redefine the perception of Idaho wine, similar to how Chateau Ste. Michelle created Washington wine tourism when it opened in 1976 in Woodinville.
Traffic to Koenig already exceeds Greg’s expectations. Plus, guests are stopping at neighboring tasting rooms. Visiting luminaries are going to be brought here to show what’s possible. It’s likely to spark investment and growth.
Importantly, Koenig has the wines to back up this facility’s grandeur. He long has been considered the top winemaker in the Gem State, and is the consulting winemaker for others, most notably 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards in Eagle, Williamson and nearby Scoria Vineyards.
Koenig’s showpiece winery combines his natural architectural talent with his winemaking skills to re-envision the future of Idaho wine.