After an innocent vacation to Boise captured the hearts of Jennifer and Marcelo Godoi, the duo moved to the city and planted the roots of Paint ‘n Sip. There the Godois beckon artists of every predilection and skill level to tie on an apron and unleash their inner Rembrandts. A calendar full of different subjects and themes teaches pupils to capture the glinting light on a sunflower’s petals, find the right hue of carmine to depict an overflowing wine glass, or dignify a trio of birds by filling their nest with monocles. At night's end, participants bring their dried work home to hang on the living-room wall or mantel.
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.
Center-cut pork loin drizzled with apricot-balsamic reduction. Pan-roasted halibut topped with sundried-tomato-basil butter. Dishes such as these reflect Muse Bistro and Wine Bar’s simple, timeless formula of pairing perfectly cooked meats with inventive sauces. The chefs reinvent the menu every Tuesday to showcase whatever ingredients are in peak season so that diners can enjoy food at its freshest, before the produce inevitably gets a tattoo to stay with the times.
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.
One of a cluster of bustling small businesses at State Line Plaza, Little Italy's Wine Bar is great place to unwind. The wine bar draws in patrons with multiple flatscreen televisions, an outdoor patio, plus 50 bottled microbrews and 12 rotating taps. And of course, there's also plenty of wine. Oenophiles can participate in Little Italy's wine club for exclusive chances to taste new wines each month, based on personal preferences and prices.