If you ever think of what kind of agriculture Idaho is involved in, you probably think of the potato. There are many who might see this as a silly thing, but potatoes are an important part of the American diet, and Idahoans have very good reason be proud of the delicious and nutritious potatoes their state puts out. But there is another crop that Idaho is proud of, and this one is a little more unique than the potato. Idaho takes its alcoholic beverage production and consumption very seriously. There are more than 50 serious wineries in the state, and a massive industry devoted to the brewing and sale of various kinds of beer, craft or otherwise. Naturally, most of this new industry is located in the southwestern portion of the state in the Treasure Valley area (Boise as the capital and biggest city being the largest concentration), but there are breweries and wineries all over the state, and the industry is becoming a serious part of the country’s alcohol culture, which is far more than just the simply beer brands you are used to the branding ads.
What makes Idaho such an up and coming juggernaut in this business (Which is somewhat up and coming itself)? Just like Idaho is fertile ground for the growth of potatoes, hops, and grapes grow thick and strong in Idaho’s excellent soil. Naturally, having such massive and quality assets for production of wine, beer, and various other spirits or liqueurs makes Idaho very important to the country’s supplies of alcohol. For wine specifically, there are a number of factors that make vineyards work so well in Idaho. Of course, the soil is a big part of the process, but Idaho has an ideal range of elevations for grapes to grow.
More than just adding to the culture of Idaho, this recent (Fairly recent. This trend is years in the making) upswing is helping Idaho’s general economy make serious strides. I am not going to make any waves by saying this, but people like alcohol and they especially like it when it is done well and in a unique way. Of course, there is the buying and selling of wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages, but there is much more going on. The particular trend Idaho is following now is a very social one, and the people who are getting in on it are not taking their special drinks home and consuming them alone. They are joining with others who are of a like mind and going out, patronizing bars and specialty liquor stores, spreading the wealth and bolstering the economy. The liquor industry in Idaho is thriving, and that helps the state thrive as well.
The wine coming out of Idaho is even going to award shows and coming away with solid victories. The Idaho alcohol industry is making some absolutely colossal waves, and they are propagating in every direction. Where Idaho once might have been dismissed on the national and world stage, the planet is starting to take notice and realize what it is dealing with. They recognize the quality of the product coming out of the Gem State and are treating it like any precious metal deserves.
If you do not know much about the subject, you might be wondering what is so special what Idaho is doing, beyond that, the state is inserting itself in a nationwide (If not worldwide) market. This has all come along with the recent (Again, years in the making) trend towards quality beers and spirits. You are probably aware of wine culture, and how much stock people put in a good wine. You are also probably aware of the popularity of a good whiskey, and how much people will pay for the right kind of hard liquor, aged from the right year (Think of how iconic the image of a movie star holding a partially filled whiskey glass is). For a while, beer has not been quite in on this trend. For sure, people have made great strides to make a quality brew, but there has never been such a large and focused community on creating craft beer. This community’s demands are niche, but it is growing and people are starting to recognize its virtues. Not only is Idaho entering into an already established and important market with the wine industry and bringing a stellar product along with it, but the state and its many intrepid citizens are also a part of a nationwide effort on an almost entirely new front. That is where a lot of the hype is coming from.
What is curious about this phenomenon is Idaho’s well-known relationship with the LDS church, whose members are commonly referred to as Mormons. Mormons are famous for their abstinence from all alcohol, and this system of beliefs has had a large impact on Idaho, where there are of course a lot of Mormons. In the past, this has meant that the Idaho alcohol industry hasn’t necessarily been in the best position to thrive, simply because a large part of the population probably was not going to be buying very much alcohol. Despite this, the industry is still coming into its own and is on track to be even more successful than it is now. The future is always uncertain, but things are looking good.
The potato will probably be what comes to mind when people think of Idaho for a while yet, but already something is coming along to replace the juggernaut that is the potato. Maybe in the future, people will associate Idaho with glorious spud and really great wine at the same time. For now, if you are interested, I recommend figuring out what local haunts are selling this new coming tastiness and maybe even schedule a day for a visit to a nearby vineyard or brewery. The process through which wine or beer is produced is almost as exciting as consuming the product itself, and it can be a very educational experience.