Fine Fermenting From Williamson Vineyards • Three Cheers for Beer! 

Fine Fermenting From Williamson Vineyards

Williamson Vineyards is celebrating their third year making wine by hosting a First of Harvest Party at their orchards and vineyard outside Caldwell on Saturday. They will offer complimentary tastes of all their wines, some bottled and some in barrels, including a special late harvest Viognier, and their brand new Syrah port. Also available for tasting will be samples of their first cherries and apricots of the season, as well as complimentary chocolates and cheeses to tempt visitors. The Williamson clan has had plenty of years to hone their fruit-farming skills. In the early 1900s, Great Uncle Henry planted the first fruit trees on a homestead of 80 acres. Today, the family homestead has grown to a sizable 900 acres, with a booming orchard and winery. Around 500 acres are in fruit trees, 36 of which are dedicated to grape vines. The Williamsons carefully hand pick 20 percent of the grapes, which they use to make their award-winning wine. The other 80 percent of grapes are machine-harvested and contracted out to other wineries in the area.

The Williamson's might be fairly new to the wine business, but don't call them novices. They now produce 3,000 cases a year, have won numerous wine competition awards, including Best of Show at the 2004 Idaho Wine Festival, and the Best of Region award from the Northwest Wine Summit.

Beverly Williamson says the party is a celebration not only of their wine, but of their fruit as well. "We've been in the tree fruit industry for a long, long time, and we've always kind of thought that the beginning of summer would be a good time to do something. When we had our grand opening for the wine three years ago, it was so well-received that we wanted to keep doing something every year."

Live music provided by acoustic guitarists James Barrett and Jacob Ineck promises to enhance the tasting experience. Get out of town and visit Treasure Valley wine country, and enjoy the sunshine, wine, cheese, chocolate, cherries and apricots.

June 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Williamson Vineyards, 19692 Williamson Ln., Caldwell. For more information, call 208-459-7333, or visit www.willorch.com.

Three Cheers for Beer!

The second annual Old Boise Brewers Festival last Saturday, delivered microbrews aplenty. The parking lot behind China Blue at Sixth and Main streets was bustling with beer lovers. For $20, 21 and overs were given a little plastic mug and set free to frolic among the beer booths until drunkenness or heat stroke overtook them. There were many more brewers at this year's event than last year, and loyal followers didn't fail to turn up for them. Among the hops-and-barley brewers this year were: Alaskan, Big Horn (The Ram), Big Sky, Deschutes, Full Sail, Grand Teton, Highland Hollows, Laughing Dog, MacTarnahans, New Belgium, Pyramid, Redhook, Rogue, Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Sockeye, Sun Valley, Tablerock and Widmer, just to name a few.

There must have been a very uneven male-to-female ratio going on, or the earth must have tilted off its axis, because a strange phenomenon occurred that baffled female festival-goers in spades. Women were able to come and go from the one bathroom provided for them without having to stand in line, while men were lined up, waiting for a chance to hit the head. Whatever the reason, it made for many amused remarks and may be part of what brings some festival attendees back next year. That and the beer, of course.

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