Explore Idaho's journey from pioneering some of the Northwest’s first vines to flourishing in today's vibrant wine scene.


Ancient Stewards of the Land

Long before vineyards, Idaho's landscapes were nurtured and respected by Native American tribes such as the Nez Perce, Coeur d'Alene, Bannock, Shoshone, and Kootenai. These communities were the original stewards of the land, living in harmony with the natural resources and cultivating the region's rich biodiversity.


Lewis and Clark Expedition

The exploration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition marked a significant moment in Idaho's history, opening up the region to European exploration. Their journey through what is now Idaho, via the Lemhi Pass, marked the beginning of a new era, paving the way for settlers and ultimately the introduction of vine cultivation.

Early Vines in the Northwest


Early Vines in the Northwest

The first grapevines, of the Royal Muscadine variety, were planted in Lewiston. These were some of the first vines planted in all of the Northwest USA. This set the foundation for the state’s viticultural potential. This early introduction would pave the way for a booming wine industry.


French and German Influence

The nascent wine industry enjoyed a period of growth as French and German settlers like Louis Delsol, Robert Schleicher, and Jacob Schaefer cultivated extensive vineyards in the Lewiston area, producing award-winning wines.

Expansion of Vineyards


Expansion of Vineyards

Lewis-Clark Valley sees first plantings of vines. Varieties such as Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc were cultivated, and by 1908 over 40 different varieties were planted.

Prohibition's Impact


Prohibition's Impact

The Idaho wine industry faced a significant setback with the advent of Prohibition in 1919, which halted wine production and led to the shuttering of many thriving vineyards.


Slow Post-Prohibition Revival

Following the repeal of Prohibition, Idaho's wine industry experienced a slow revival, starting with the establishment of the state’s first post-Prohibition winery in 1935. Despite this reestablishment, it would be the only winery in the state for the next 40 years.

Regrowth and Establishment

1970s - 1980s

Regrowth and Establishment

The establishment of new vineyards and wineries, including Idaho's second winery, Chateau Juliaetta, in 1972 and the formation of the Idaho Wine Commission in 1984, signaled a renewed interest and investment in Idaho’s wine potential. This era marked the beginning of modern viticulture in the state, focusing on quality and terroir driven wines.

Expansion and Recognition

1999 - 2016

Expansion and Recognition

The Idaho wine industry saw significant expansion, from planting new vineyards to establishing American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), like Snake River Valley in 2007, Eagle Foothills in 2015, and Lewis-Clark Valley in 2016. The area of vineyards grew from 650 acres to over 1,300 acres in this period.

Current Landscape


Current Landscape

Today, Idaho boasts 65 wineries with more than 1,300 acres of grapes planted. The industry continues to flourish and grow, building on its rich history and unique terroir, contributing significantly to the state's economy and cultural heritage.


♦ Clearwater Canyon Cellars: Lewis-Clark Valley History

Wikipedia: Nez Perce

Wikipedia: History of Idaho

♦ Idaho Wine Commission, Idaho Wine History