Downtown Moscow, Idaho, is a charming, old town tucked in by the University of Idaho, another land-grant college, all of about ten minutes away from the Washington State University. We were fortunate enough to find a parking space on Main Street, right by Camas Prairie Winery, our immediate goal.
Meeting Jeremy and Heidi Ritter, owners and winemaking team, it was natural to ask how they got started and what made them decide to grow their production to commercial size. A neighbor of theirs got Jeremy into making wine in the garage; he discovered he was a natural at it and they decided to purchase the Camas Prairie Winery in the quaint downtown spot. It was a turn-key operation allowing them to focus on sourcing grapes from Julietta, Idaho, the Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima AVA’s. Local star thistle honey is
the base of the Camas Prairie Meads. A couple of wild-sourced fruits (huckleberries, blackberries and plums) as well as cultivated berries round out the raw ingredients; quality. Camas Prairie Winery produces the wines for the University of Idaho’s official label, ‘Vandal Crest Wines.’ They also bottle other specialty labels for local fund-raisers.
I have to tell you that my partner in wine maintained his dislike of mead; that all changed when he tasted through the five available honey-based wines Jeremy made. They were all between 5-5.5% residual sugar but none tasted SWEET. Each of the fruit infused meads was a lovely color (with the huckleberry being a pale lavender) and their flavors were distinctly ripe fruit. He became a convert that day.
Camas Prairie Winery distributes wine/mead and they ship to twenty states and DC. There are dry whites and reds, besides the sweet/dessert wines and meads. There is something for everyone! My favorites were the Lemberger from the Champoux Vineyard with its smokey blueberries and the Ewe-Eye Gewürztraminer, also sourced from the Champoux Vineyard, at 3.5% RS and tasting of lychee and mint with a light spicy finish.
It was a fun visit to a winery with some fun surprises. Cheers!