Idaho's western border has multiple small wine regions, but the biggest concentration of wineries is in the south. Between Boise and the Oregon border is the Snake River Valley, rich with the lava rock soil of the ancient lost Lake Idaho. This fine earth nurtures such grape varieties as Syrah, merlot and tempranillo. The wineries here are young — the first opened in 1976 — and the Snake River Valley is one of the American Wine Institute's newest designated wine regions. Savor Idaho is the state's big wine and culinary event. In June, winemakers and chefs offer tastings at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise. The Idaho Wine Commission has maps of the state's wine regions and a complete list of wineries. — Photo by Glenn Oakley/age fotostock
Good soil, lots of sunshine and reliable rain make for fantastic wine country — and the United States has plenty, beyond the usual California vineyards. Lesser-known regions produce brilliant wines of all varieties. With a designated driver, a good local map and a taste for gastronomic adventure, try these seven wine regions — all within easy driving distance of a major city.