Fans of Bar Gernika's grass-fed beef burgers and The Modern Hotel's locally raised corned beef brisket are in for some disappointing news: Homestead Natural Foods is officially disbanding.
Homestead—a partnership between Ed and Debby Wilsey, of Marsing; Bill and Carol Gale, of Middleton; and Keith and Sharon Huettig, of Jerome—specializes in grass-fed and finished, hormone-free beef and also sells all natural pork and poultry. For years, Homestead sold its products at farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants around town. However, the company has struggled recently.
"The price of commodity beef got so high—and our beef was worth more than commodity beef—and so we just kept raising the price and raising the price until we basically priced ourselves out of the restaurant business," said Ed Wilsey.
Wilsey said there are just too many costs associated with selling retail-ready meat—everything from processing to cold storage to marketing to distribution.
"It just got to be too much work to do it this way," said Wilsey. "Bill is going to sell his cattle on the commodity market and Keith is going to try to keep going and doing his thing. You can buy Debby's and my meat at the Whole Foods or the Boise Co-op."
The Wilseys are in the process of forming a new company, Desert Mountain Grass Fed Beef, with Bob and Jessica Howard of Howard Ranch in Hammett. The company will only sell whole animals to the Boise Co-op and Whole Foods stores in Boise and Utah. Wilsey estimates that will work out to around 30 or so cows a month.
"We'll probably sell some halves, wholes and quarters if people want them, but we're out of the pound-of-hamburger-at-a-time business," said Wilsey.
Homestead will keep its booth at the Boise Farmers Market through the end of August. Then the Wilseys will take some time off before they return to the market in late September under their new name.
Speaking of the Boise Farmers Market, the organization is hosting its Harvest Moon Dinner Saturday, Sept. 5, on the Owyhee rooftop terrace. The menu will feature six courses prepared by local chefs utilizing local produce from the market, and each course will be paired with a local wine. The evening starts at 6 p.m. with a social hour and no-host bar, and dinner starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75 until Saturday, Aug. 22, and then go up to $100. For more info, visit boisefarmersmarket.brownpapertickets.com.
In other wine news, the Basque Block is scrubbing away the last remnants of Jaialdi to prepare for another event: The Basque Museum and Cultural Center's 18th Annual WineFest, which takes place Friday, Aug. 14, 5:30-9 p.m.. Organizers estimate the event will draw around 800 people to the Basque Block to sample more than 150 wines from around the globe, along with pintxos from nearby restaurants. Tickets come with a commemorative wine glass and are $30 each in advance or $100 for four. Tickets jump to $35 the day of the event. For more info, call 208-343-2671, or visit basquemuseum.com.
Speaking of wine tastings, the wineries of the Sunnyslope Wine Trail are hosting their sixth annual Sunnyslope Wine Trail Festival Saturday, Aug. 22. The event will go down 2-6 p.m. at the Train Depot Park on Main Street in Caldwell. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the gate and include a Sunnyslope Wine Trail Glass, along with sips from local wineries and bites from local restaurants. Entertainment will be provided by the Brook Faulk band. For more info, visit facebook.com/SunnyslopeWineTrail.
In other booze tasting news, TASTE208 is hosting a second event this year dubbed the Autumn Speakeasy. This 1920s speakeasy-themed event will take place 6-9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27 at The Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St.
In addition to tasting products from 20 vendors—including Pendleton Whisky, 44° North Vodka, Proletariat Wine Co., Koenig Distillery and Winery, and Sockeye Brewing—attendees can also snack on dishes created by Chef Peter Schott of 13th Street Pub and Grill and sample fresh sushi from Reel Foods Fish Market.
Tickets are $65 per person and include a tasting glass and gift bag worth $100 in gifts from Full Circle Exchange, Wear Boise and 13th Street Pub. Only 300 tickets will be sold. For more info, visit taste208event.com.
In other local wine news, Wine Spectator recently announced its 2015 Restaurant Wine List Awards, given to establishments that "stand at the forefront of wine-and-food culture, offering extraordinary experiences for enophiles across the globe."
In the Treasure Valley, Mai Thai Restaurant and Bar, Fork and Bella Aquila each took home the 2015 Award of Excellence for their wine lists, while Chandlers Steakhouse took home the prestigious 2015 Best of Award of Excellence for its extensive list, which specializes in California and Washington wines.
No Idaho restaurants took home Wine Spectator's highest honor, the Grand Award, which was only given to eight new restaurants this year, including Aux Beaux Arts in China and Spruce in San Francisco.