Someday summer will arrive. And with it will come a particular thirst that can only be quenched by the taste of certain grapes and the juice that comes from them.
"Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing," Ernest Hemingway wrote in "Death in the Afternoon."
To increase our pleasure there are several upcoming events that involve the tasting and quaffing of wine.
The second annual Sun Valley Food & Wine Festival is first up. It will be held next weekend, Friday, June 6, through Sunday, June 8, in Sun Valley and Ketchum. There will be vintner dinners at several area restaurants, tastings and chef demos.
The Grand Tasting on Sunday, June 8, will feature comestibles by Sun Valley Resort chef Kenny Rudolph, along with tastings of wines, beers and spirits. These will include Laurent-Perrier Champagne from California; Leonard Locascio Selections from Sardinia, Italy; MacRostie Winery and Vineyards from Sonoma, Calif.; and Arbor Crest Wine Cellars from Spokane, Wash.
Idaho wineries will be represented by Koenig Winery in Caldwell, The Winery at Eagle Knoll in Eagle and Carmela Vineyards in Glenns Ferry. Spirits will be poured from Distilled Resources Inc. from Rigby.
Wood River Valley businesses Nouveaux Beverage, Hayden Beverage Co., Frenchman's Gulch, S&C Importers and JW Thornton Wine Imports will pour and discuss many of their favorites wines for attendees.
To register for the event, go to sunvalleyfoodandwinefestival.com.
The weekend following, June 13-15, will be the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, with three days of cooking demos, wine seminars and tastings. The Classic will continue its efforts to raise funds and awareness of Grow for Good, a national initiative dedicated to supporting local farms and encouraging sustainable agriculture. For more information go to foodandwine.com.
Then in July the fun returns to Sun Valley. Named by Wine Spectator magazine as one of the Top 10 U.S. Charity Auctions from 2003-2007, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts Wine Auction will take place July 24-27.
The wine auction is held annually to raise funds to support educational arts programming and community outreach. Last year a record was set in both attendance and money raised. There were more than 600 attendees at the gala auction, 450 attended vintner dinners and 1,500 folks caroused at the picnic at Big Wood Golf Course. The wine tasting drew 1,500 samplers, and 85 wineries participated in the auction with generous donations of wine, amenities and services. Visit Sunvalleycenter.org for more information.
Another nice wine festival that's a bit of a haul but closer than Europe is the 16th annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, paired for the first time with the Sonoma County Showcase of Wine & Food, to be held this year over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29-31.
Festivals are not the only places to find and taste great wines, though. Sun Valley Wine Co. and Ciro's in Ketchum and diVine, A Place for Wine in Hailey are three wonderful wine shops with interesting selections and knowledgeable staff.
In Boise two wine shops stand out for selection and knowledge of the proprietors: the Boise Co-op Wine Shop and the 8th Street Wine Co.
Other shops in the region include the Wine Shoppe at the family-owned resort Dornan's in Moose, Wyo. Dornan's is a great place to stop and rent a cabin for the night or before heading into Grand Teton National Park. They sell about 150 types of cheese and 1,600 French and Californian bottlings. Its next wine tasting is from 6-8 p.m. Sunday, June 1. For just $10 a person, one can taste 10 wines and receive a coupon for $5 off any of the wines sampled that night. Check out Dornans.com for more information.
Wine may be the nectar of the gods, but thankfully we mere mortals are here on earth where the grapes grow and wine flows.