Basque Museum to Host 21st-Annual Winefest on Boise's Basque Block 

This year marks the 21st edition of the annual Winefest in the Basque Block, a Basque Museum and Cultural Center fundraiser that’s grown larger year by year. On Friday, Aug. 17, over 100 wines will be poured in the block against the festive backdrop of live music, raffles and performances by the Oinkari Basque Dancers.

When Winefest started, it used to have silent auctions, but transitioned to raffle prizes when organizers ran out of room for the auction items and the ever-growing selection of wines.

“We only had a few dozen wines and about 100 or so people in participation [in 1997],” said Basque Museum Executive Director Annie Gavica. “At the time it was really only people from the Basque community. Now, we have nearly 1,000 people that show up and we close off the Basque Block.”

click to enlarge COURTESY BASQUE MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTER / THIS IS BOISE
  • Courtesy Basque Museum & Cultural Center / This Is Boise
The wines are selected by volunteers and members of a wine board that convenes for the event. A typical Basque wine is made from tempranillo grapes, and four local wineries will be pouring Tempranillo wines at the festival: Sawtooth Winery, Vizcaya Winery, Fujishin Family Cellars and Indian Creek Winery. Kelli Geselle, manager at Sawtooth Winery, said the Boise climate is similar to the region where tempranillo grapes are traditionally grown.

“We have similar climates to the La Rioja region in Spain,” said Geselle. “Our climate, our elevation, and our hot summer days and then the cool summer nights are very similar to what they have there.”

Wines made from tempranillo grapes generally have a smoky aroma, with fruity undertones.

“A lot of Tempranillos have a kind of cigar box or a tobacco note in it,” said Geselle. “They also get more of a plum or raspberry note as well, versus a dark black cherry that you’ll find in a Shiraz, or like a black pepper that you’ll find in a Petite Sirah or a Cabernet Sauvignon. The Tempranillo are going to be a lot more smooth and have a lot more smoky notes to it. It’s great for barbeques because of that.”

click to enlarge COURTESY BASQUE MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTER
  • Courtesy Basque Museum & Cultural Center

Sawtooth Winery is pouring its 2015 Tempranillo, along with its Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and Skyline Blend.

The party starts at 5:30 p.m., and despite its name, Winefest is branching out to include hard cider this year, which will be poured by Meriwether Cider. Local restaurants from the Basque block will serve pintxos—Basque-style small plates similar to Spanish tapas. Attendees can munch on their finds and drink wine while listening to Kathryn McGee from Boise Rock School, Swing By, and Aldape Bootstompers, and watching the Oinkari Basque Dancers perform before raffle prizes are drawn. All of the proceeds from the event—which costs $45 in advance, $50 at the event, or $160 for a group of four—go back to the Basque Museum.
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