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Breweries & Wineries of North Idaho
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We in the northwest have many things to celebrate- the glorious natural beauty, the warmth of a supportive community, the vibrantly depicted change of seasons, and much more. With so much cause for celebration, we are lucky to have so many different ways to do so. How better to make merry than with a locally crafted spirit? Fortunately for all of us there are many delicious wineries and breweries right in our backyards. Along with a few wine and beer “consultants” we did some leg (and liver) work, and came up with an informative guide to get anyone on their way out the door and headed towards a party. Pend d’Oreille Winery

  Ah Pend d’Oreille Winery. My home away from home. What is there to say, other than that Pend d’Oreille Winery simply has some of the best wine I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried a lot). Wine maker Steve Meyer out does himself year after year, with his incredible and ever changing menu, from standards like Merlot (soft and smooth) and Chardonnay (balanced and buttery), to classics like the Syrah (luscious and full bodied) and Cabernet Sauvignon (rich and elegant), to eclectic specialties like the Malbec (complex and layered) and Cabernet Franc (powerful and unique).

  And of course, everyone’s favorites, the Bistro Rouge (fun and approachable) and Huckleberry Blush (sweet and refreshing). Pend d’Oreille Winery has been around for 11 years, and the wine just keeps getting better, with dozens of awards and medals hanging in the tasting room to prove that I’m not the only one who thinks so. At any given time there are at least 10 wines on the menu, and I personally love to keep abreast of what’s happening in the bottles. There is a bounty of home and garden goodness to sate the most discriminating shopper, and with wine by the glass specials every evening from 4:30 till close, there is something for everyone. Add the fabulous line up of live music on Friday and Saturday nights, and you need never leave the building. I know I don’t. 265-8545
Coeur d’Alene Cellars

Walking into the Coeur d’Alene Cellars Winery I was instantly impressed with the simple elegance of the space, clean lines, and understated style. The wine was equally impressive, with round flavors and long smooth finishes, it matched the décor nicely. The winery specializes in Rhone varietals, with Viognier and Syrah as their darlings. I tried both an oaked and unoaked Viognier, and was surprised at the vast range of difference in the two. Their Syrahs are heavenly, and they have already won a remarkable number of awards in their relatively short time as a winery-their first vintage was in 2002. They also have a red and white blend, the No. 6 series, named after their tasting room, Barrel Room No. 6 (named so because of the 5 other barrel rooms located
on site at the winery).

  The Coeur d’Alene Cellars is a small, family owned operation. At this time they produce 3000-4000 cases of wine a year, and though there is room for growth, they don’t have any immediate plans to make more. They are staying focused on small, handcrafted lots, with delicious results.

  I stopped by Barrel Room No. 6 on my way out of town, and was wowed again by the atmosphere. Spacious, yet cozy, sleek, sophisticated, romantic and elegant, it impressed me as a great place to enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat. And the Shins were playing on the stereo,
extra points for coolness.  664-2336

TimberRock Winery

  Driving through the rolling North Idaho hills towards TimberRock Winery, I felt like I was on a treasure hunt. I wasn’t far off. Deep in the forest I discovered a truly unique winemaking operation, and felt like I had stumbled upon something magical. Owner and operator Kevin Rogers greeted us with a sample of his 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon taken straight from the barrel. The wine was just as mystical as its surroundings, silky smooth, elegant and complex. As we viewed his modest and quaint winery, it became obvious that this was less of a business venture than Kevin’s own masterful artistic expression. He spoke passionately about the vineyards and grapes he used, and the delicious wine they created. In addition to his Cabernet Sauvignon, Kevin also makes a Chardonnay,
a Merlot, and just finished his first bottling of ice wine. He is a veterinarian by day, and took up winemaking as a creative endeavor.
Together with his wife Michelle, son Weston, and consultant Robert Smasne, what started as a small home production 7 years ago has become a commercial success. TimberRock currently makes 500 cases a year, with the ultimate goal set at a 1000 case production. He is in the process of building a barrel room, which will double as a small tasting room. This will afford others
the opportunity that we had, to travel into a different sort of winemaking realm, and come out inspired.

Coeur d’Alene Brewing Company

  Coeur d’Alene Brewing Company knows how to do beer. They have got an impressive menu, including 10 constants, and 2 rotating brews- a seasonal and a brewer’s whim. That’s a lot of beer (a dozen, for those who don’t care to count). It’s a hell of a production, including another brewery in Spokane-The Steam Plant Grill, and another restaurant in Moscow. Added to their bottling, kegs, and growlers, they keep pretty busy, brewing beer every week. The brewery has been around awhile, since 1908, in fact, (then closed during the prohibition and reopened again in 1987) and it shows. The beer has, as my beer experts concluded, “all sorts of flavor.” We sampled all 12 offerings, including the seasonal Strawberry Blonde and the brewer’s whim, the Triple Cherry Porter. I personally loved the Vanilla Bourbon Stout (my tasting notes read “yummy”), and my companions were seriously impressed by the Honeymoon Wheat Ale (“mmm, smooth”) and the Pullman Porter (“that’s a beer, like beer should be”). They use local ingredients, and have a great menu, so stop into the Coeur d’Alene Brewing Company and have a pint, there is something for every palette.  664-BREW

Laughing Dog Brewery

  Visiting Laughing Dog Brewery is a satisfying experience. All of the beer we tried was delicious and remarkably drinkable. Owner and brewer Fred Colby likes his beer “big”, and, to quote my accompanying beer expert, the result is something like “oh my god.” My personal favorite, and the one I always drink when frequenting establishments with Laughing Dog on tap, is the Cream Ale. A hybrid mix between an ale and a lager, the Cream Ale is at once light and deeply flavorful, a difficult balance to achieve. We were both impressed by the Hot Chihuahua, a festive beer that is fermented with Chile peppers, giving it a nice spicy finish. Laughing Dog Brewery just celebrated its one-year anniversary, and to commemorate it they made the Devil Dog, an imperial IPA that is so strong it’s almost a barley wine. The Devil Dog smelled like a bag of hops, was in fact triple dry hopped, with a blend of five different hops. With so much hop action going on, some of these bigger beers could potentially be pretty aggressive, something my companions and I were a little nervous about. But, after imbibing, we were pleasantly surprised. The intensely hopped beers were well dialed- to quote my partner in crime “my taste buds weren’t bombarded, it was more like a symphony of flavor.” Indeed. Laughing Dog sticks to what it does best, brewing beer, and will continue to do so, with seasonal specials like the Huckleberry Crčme and St Benny’s Irish Red, and tap standards like the Pale Ale and Sweet Stout. Fred has a surprise scheduled for the middle of winter, but he won’t let the secret out. Stay tuned and see what Laughing Dog brewery has in store for us next.  263-9222

MickDuff’s Brewery

 Finally, a brewery right in downtown Sandpoint that you can walk too (and home from). MickDuff’s is just what you’re looking for in a brew pub, cool and comfortable surroundings, friendly and knowledgeable staff, good, hearty food, and, of course, a selection of delicious home brewed beers. Founded by brothers Micky and Duffy Mahoney, MickDuff’s is less than a half a year old in Sandpoint and already enjoying tremendous success, do in no small part to the aforementioned qualities. They have live music on the weekends, a rockin’ happy hour Monday-Friday from 3-6, and big plans for expansion, including more tanks for brewing beer and a cool roof top deck scheduled for next summer. Onto the beer—they currently have a revolving menu of 6-7 beers, with a goal set at a steady 9, though they plan to have those 9 ever-changing as well. We tried what they had to offer at the time, and we weren’t disappointed. From their “Tipsy Toe Head Blonde” to their “Knot Tree Porter” the beers all displayed strong flavor and character, mainly due to the fact that they don’t filter their beer. My “associates” had these things to say – “good and clean-they really pulled this off” (in reference to the Huckleberry Blonde); “this is a good drinking beer” (Lake Paddler Pale Ale); “this is a pretty friendly IPA, its like “hey, how you doing?”” (Strom-Hammer IPA). So there you have it. Head on down to MickDuff’s, and see for yourself. Also check out their Oktoberfest celebration that they are planning along with Laughing Dog Brewery and Schweitzer.  255-4351
Visit these places for yourself, and look for their products in stores and restaurants throughout the northwest. Learn more by visiting them on the web.

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