New Eagle Wine Grape Processing and Event Center to Open Eagle Foothills Wine Industry Blossoms
By Barb Law Shelley Photos Kimberlee Miller
Crews are busily constructing The Eagle Wine Company Viticultural Center at 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards. When the $4 million custom wine processing and event center opens Labor Day weekend for the grape harvest, grape growers and the public will benefit. It’s all part of the emerging viticulture industry that plays an essential role in Eagle’s economy.
Viticulture, pronounced vit-a-cul-chur is from the Latin word for vine or winegrowing. It is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes, a branch of the science of horticulture. There is a lot of it going on in Eagle these days.
A fairly recent addition, the Eagle Foothills American Viticultural Area was approved by the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau effective December of 2015.
“The establishment of the Eagle Foothills AVA helps wine enthusiasts and grape growers understand and recognize the value of the Eagle Foothills as a grape growing area of national importance,” observes Martha Cunningham who co-founded 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards with her husband, Gary. “The quality of Eagle Foothills AVA wine grapes is distinctive,” she adds.
Gary notes that the economic impact of this new center exceeds far beyond the 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards. “Many growers have no place to process their grapes,” said Gary. “We anticipate serving many, many new and existing grape growing operations.”
The history of grape and wine cultivation in Idaho traces to 1864 according to the Idaho Wine Commission website. Grapes were planted in Lewiston before grapes were planted in Oregon and Washington. Idaho wines thrived and won national awards until Prohibition halted all legal alcohol production. Wine grapes were not planted in the state again until 1970.
The reputation of Idaho’s wine is growing as wines receive national awards according to the Stonebridge Research company in its 2014 report that was requested by the Idaho Wine Commission. In the report, Stonebridge states that Idaho’s wine industry had a total impact in excess of $169.3 million in 2013. The industry provided more than 1,200 full time jobs and many part time and seasonal jobs that year. It has grown since then with implications for spurring growth in related industries from travel and tourism to restaurants to agriculture to transportation to grocery stores.
“We recognize the positive benefits the wine industry has on Eagle’s economy,” says Robin Collins, City of Eagle economic development director. “The industry preserves agricultural land, generates investment, provides jobs, attracts tourists, generates taxes and contributes to overall quality of life amenities.”
Robin points out that the industry has “broader economic impact that flows throughout the metropolitan area, generating business for firms seemingly unrelated to the wine industry, such as farming, banking, accounting, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, printing and advertising, which are important markers.”
Her promise is that because of these industry benefits and the “real can-do spirit among our vintners, the City of Eagle will continue to do all it can to encourage and support this growth.”
She adds that one dollar of sales coming into the wine industry in the Boise metro area might have a ripple effect of $1.75 in regional sales. For every job created, 0.75 other jobs will be created in other industries.
Opening this fall, the Eagle Wine Company Viticultural and event center at 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards, 5900 Pearl Road, offers 80’ by 80” square feet of space in phase one of construction. It will offer an underground level for wine making and barrel storage and a ground level for wine tasting and social gatherings.
“The concept is a vertically integrated vineyard, winery, tasting room and gathering place,” said Martha. “We will manage the wine quality from bud to taste bud so as to have complete quality control of the fruit, wine making and the customer experience from grape to glass.”
The center is being built by Bob Wright of the Eagle-based Wright Brothers The Building Company. Bob is a wine and winery enthusiast, who notes, “It’s a dream come true to build this viticultural center. Its potential to transport the Eagle community to a new level in the industry is super promising.”