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Sawtooth Winery Photos

Sawtooth Winery Review

Regions: Snake River Valley AVA, Idaho

Reviewed: August 28, 2013 by
Published: September 9, 2013

Wednesday August 28, 2013 started out hot. At 5 am it was nearly 80 degrees and overcast. So what’s a girl to do after all the laundry is finished on a hot, humid hump day at summer's end? Well this girl decided to grab her sweetheart and explore a winery located just 14 miles from home. The winery was started by Charles Pintler, and since we had attended several wedding receptions at the winery over the past few years, I decided it was time to do an official tasting. After all, if the local brides were choosing it as a must do destination, it was high time I tasted some product.

Sawtooth Estate Winery, formerly known as Pintler Cellars, was founded in 1987 and is an easy drive from Nampa. This 500+ acre vineyard is located in the heart of the Canyon County region of Idaho’s Snake River Valley and is the largest vineyard in Idaho. Only 25% of the grapes grown here are needed in the production of Sawtooth Estate Wines. The rest are sold to surrounding Idaho wineries.

Seven of the original acres of European vinifera vines, including Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Semillon, were planted in 1982. In the following year, four additional acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were planted. In 1987, the first harvest of fruit was available for the winery. Currently, Sawtooth and Skyline vineyards are growing more than 25 varieties of vinifera grapes.

In 1998, the Pintlers sold the company, and the winery took a new name honoring the iconic Sawtooth Mountains. In 2008, winemaker Bill Murray (and no, not the Hollywood Bill Murray) joined Sawtooth Winery and has been making award-winning wines with the vinifera grapes that thrive in the hot days and cool nights of Idaho's high elevation landscape.

Sawtooth sits atop a hill with the vineyard below on a perfect south facing slope. One of the primary reasons that Sawtooth was chosen as the Bride’s Choice award for 2012 is that the views from this south facing slope are gorgeous. Not ocean front or mountainous like the name sake, but beautiful fields with rolling green hills in the background. You can see for miles from this vantage point.

Onward to the wine. The host for today was Hanna. She was fantastic. Hanna received her wine tasting certification in Ireland. She is world traveled, and knowledgeable not only about the Sawtooth wines, but all wines in general. She turned the boring hump day experience into an actual trip around the world. Sorry, no pictures…she was having a bad hair day…what is it with Wednesday anyway?

The first wine we sampled, the 2010 Chardonnay, ended up being my favorite Sawtooth white wine. The well-rounded Chardonnay was like having a caramel covered green apple on a stick. Yeah, a Chardonnay I really like!

Picking a favorite Sawtooth red wine is a little more difficult, they were all excellent! The 2011 Syrah is the first Idaho red wine to win 91 points from Wine Enthusiast. Hints of dark cherry and spice are draped on a smooth, medium-bodied frame. It was definitely one of my favorites. The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon has a dark fruit-filled nose and palate with hints of spice, vanilla and oak. It was an instant hit with both of us. Another favorite was the 2009 RSV Merlot. This berry layered wine displays notes of cedar and spice and has a soft finish.

Sawtooth’s tasting room is located upstairs so it is not handicap friendly, but it is a little larger than some of the tasting rooms in Idaho. There is a nice balcony as well as an indoor sitting area where you can enjoy your tasting experience. The gift shop is small, but I did find a wine soap which I hadn't seen in any other Idaho tasting room.

If you are looking for a well-rounded wine selection with high-quality products as well as a peaceful place to get away, Sawtooth is the place. If you are lucky, Hanna will be there to guide you through an afternoon of tasting some of the best wines in Idaho.

Address & Contact Information: 19348 Lowell Rd. Building C Caldwell, Idaho 83607. Telephone: 208-467-1200, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00.

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