Piloted by a professional driving staff, Boise Party Bus's fleet whisks between 16 and 24 clientele away on celebratory jaunts customized for special occasions and tours. Each non-smoking ride arrives equipped with a full bar, hardwood dance floor, and miniature water park built into the tire rims as a driver accommodates requests you make throughout the trip.
Alongside services for private parties, Boise Party Bus's passengers charter the fleet for the Best of the Northwest Wine Tour or Snake River Valley Vineyard Tour to sample boutique wines at five local destinations. Guests on The Great Idaho Brew Tour make pit stops at up to six of the state's best brewers for pours of craft brew on a voyage that Boise Weekly lauds as "a genius idea."
A fully operational winery since 1987, Sawtooth Winery was once under the care of the Pintler family, who had used their parcel of land as pasture for years. But the rolling, south-facing hills were a bit too robust to be limited to one use, and in 1982 15 acres of grapes were planted. Today, Sawtooth is one of the largest vineyards in Idaho, and those same vines produce the plump grapes destined become one of the eight wine varietals crafted onsite. Those wines have garnered Sawtooth a variety of honorable accolades and press, including a Winery of the Month designation from the Idaho Wine Commission.
Seasoned barkeeps fill glasses with the aromatic pours from a rotating selection of 12 wines, and the cellar stocks a slew of bottled vintages from Idaho wineries to far-flung international locales. Guests can also indulge in sips of 38 domestic and international beers. It's all a part of the new ownership at Corkscrews, who complement their libations with a freshly concocted menu that showcases pizza, salads, a spread of cheeses, and desserts, from cheesecake to ice cream with almonds. On top of filling Corkscrews' cozy environs with daily live entertainment, the owners enjoy renting out the facility and its team of wine handlers for private events such as holiday parties and Flat Earth Society meetings.
Nestled on a sloping, well-manicured hillside, Ste. Chappelle Winery transports visitors to a gothic chapel in France. Rows of grapevines intersect with the stout, picturesque building, which houses a tasting room equipped with tall archer’s windows on all sides. There, 20 varieties of wine are uncorked by resident oenophiles, splashed into awaiting glasses for sampling or dyeing mismatched neckties. In the warmer months, crowds gather with blankets and bottles on the lawn for live music events, held as part of a summer concert series.
If one word had to describe Coeur d’Alene Cellars’ attitude toward winemaking, it would probably be "meticulous." During each stage of creation, from vineyard selection and harvest to bottling, winemakers carefully supervise and adjust conditions to suit their visions. They hand-harvest fruit from their eastern Washington vineyards only on days that fit specific temperature conditions. Between pickings, the vines are pruned for low yields that concentrate flavor and quality. And their syrah and viognier grapes are both hand-sorted the night of harvest before they’re pressed and fermented.
That process is carefully controlled as well. Syrah blends first ferment in open-top vessels, allowing for closer management of color and tannins. Only later do they age inside French and American oak barrels, like former daredevils bent on reliving their trip over Niagara Falls. Viognier blends, on the other hand, spend both fermentation and aging periods in small oak barrels.
The resulting well-balanced wines can claim myriad accolades from publications such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. Their 2004 Sarah’s cuvée viognier, for instance, earned 89 points from Wine Enthusiast, which praised its "good balance" of "peach, apricot, sour lemon candy and even a bit of cinnamon." Current vintages include the 2007 Alder Ridge Vineyard syrah, whose smooth body supports flavors of berries, vanilla, and cinnamon that conclude in a lingering finish.
These and other wines are poured at Coeur d'Alene's onsite wine bar, Barrel Room No. 6. Inside, sleek red walls help create an upscale vibe. Glasses perch beneath pendant lighting on the bar or glitter on top of old wine barrels repurposed as tables. As customers sip, knowledgeable wait staff can suggest ways to bring out the wines' subtle flavors by nibbling aromatic cheese pairings or the hem of a neighbor’s freshly laundered shirt.
With 50 competitors vying for $3,000 in prizes, the Battle Of The Homebrews rewards only the best amateur beers of the pack. A people's choice event, visitors get the chance to taste samples and vote for their favorite of the competition's concoctions. From the pack, the top 10 winners get cash prizes and the beer with the most votes earns the chance to be brewed in a large batch by professional brewers. The event comes to the masses with help from The Spokane Eastside Reunion Association, an organization whose mission is to bring local communities together to inspire residents and improve local neighborhoods.