New Idaho lab helps winegrape growers, wineries produce a better product

Idaho’s 30 wineries will benefit from affordable wine-quality testing this fall when the University of Idaho’s Food Technology Center launches a new service that’s first of its kind in the Gem State.

“There’s been no wine lab in Idaho, so the producers who have tested their wines have been shipping their samples to California,” says Drew Dalgetty, manager of the Food Technology Center in Caldwell. Beginning this fall, he’ll test juices from grapes before and after harvest and will evaluate wines themselves before they’re bottled.

“When you’re competing with California and Washington wines, you have to have the right balance of acids and sugars, the right content of alcohol and the right volatile acidity—and your wines must be free of defective flavors and aromas,” Dalgetty says.

“Everyone is very excited,” says Sherise Jones, executive director of the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission in Caldwell. That’s why the commission contributed $3,000 toward the testing equipment.

Since April, 22 of Idaho’s wineries have enjoyed the right to use the “appellation” of Snake River Valley wines on their labels. They’re located within a newly approved American Viticultural Area that spans the western Snake River plain from eastern Oregon to Buhl and are now banding together in their marketing efforts.

“Quality is our number one focus,” Jones says. “Any wine country is only as good as its worst wine.”

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