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The House Expert: Idaho Wines Q&A With Kat House McClaskey

Kat House standing in front of wine bar in House of Wine tasting room.

It’s Idaho Wine Month, and it’s time to celebrate the state’s thriving wine scene! Surprising to some, Idaho boasts an increasing number of award-winning vineyards and wineries. As recognition continues to grow, this hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest won’t stay hidden for much longer.

There’s no better place to get an appreciation for the range of wines Idaho is producing than Boise’s House of Wine. This downtown wine store, tasting room, and education space was founded by Kat House McClaskey, who moved to Boise in 2010 and took over a wine laboratory. That business eventually evolved into House of Wine, answering the city’s demand for customized wine experiences and a customer-focused wine shop.

To kick off Idaho Wine Month, we connected with Kat to discuss everything from how she got involved in the wine industry to what she sees as the future of Idaho wines. 

Q: How did you first get into the wine industry? 

Kat: I started in the wine industry by working as a server in college. I was amazed at the diversity of wines from across the world and wanted to learn more about what makes them unique. One day a group of viticulture and enology professors came into the restaurant and mentioned that I should join their graduate program studying grape growing and winemaking. That planted the seed, and I did, in fact, join their Master’s program and earn my degree. From there, I worked in vineyards and wineries in Washington state prior to moving to Idaho.  

 

 

Q: What was it about Idaho’s wine industry that attracted you to this area? 

Kat: The hardworking, curious, and trailblazing spirit of those in the Idaho wine industry.  

 

 

Q: What made you start House of Wine? 

Kat: House of Wine started in 2011 as a wine laboratory, consulting, and wine education business. I saw there was a need for wine tasting and assistance as well as education in the industry and for wine lovers as well. As a perpetual student, I wanted to share my knowledge to help others on their path to wine enlightenment. Over the past twenty years, I’ve continued my education and am a stage 3 Master of Wine student, which allows me to continue my learning about the global wine industry and share those insights with others across the Northwest.  

 

 

Q: What can people expect when they visit House of Wine? 

Kat: A warm, engaging, and interactive wine experience in a bright, welcoming space. From guiding guests to the perfect bottle for their palate to hosting them for a flight, glass of wine, or a class, we work to make wine approachable and fun. Our shop is unique in that it is arranged by wine style rather than variety or region, making it easier to find favorite wines and new finds that will match your taste and pair well with your next dinner party. Our expertise spans wines of the world and the Northwest making it a great stop for wine newbies and enthusiasts alike.  

 

 

Q: Did you have preconceptions about Idaho wines? How have those changed since moving here?

Kat: Honestly, I knew nothing about Idaho wines prior to moving here. Over the past 13 years, I’ve seen the industry grow and evolve into one with many notable, well-crafted wines.

 

 

Q: What do you think most surprises people about Idaho’s wine industry? 

Kat: First, that we have a wine industry. Many people don’t associate wine with Idaho. Second, that many of the wines are bright, clean, and good representations of the varieties and styles that they represent.

 

 

Q: What wineries are helping to put Idaho wines on the map? 

Kat: This is a trick question, as it’s like choosing your favorite child. Many wineries across Idaho are innovative and consistently pushing boundaries to create notable wines.

 

 

Q: What varietals grow best in Idaho? Are there different growing climates across the state?

Kat: There are different growing regions throughout the state but some varieties that stand out from across the state include Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, and Riesling. That being said, there are many other varieties that are notable in their individual growing regions and range from classics like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to lesser-known varieties such as Petit Verdot and Albariño.

 

 

Q: Are there varietals that Idaho is starting to be known for within the industry? 

Kat: Tempranillo and Syrah are two that have garnered acclaim. But Idaho is such a dynamic region that there is a wide array of varieties that can do well in the area.  

 

 

Q: Tell us about Idaho Wine Month. What is it all about?

Kat: Idaho Wine Month is an opportunity to celebrate and increase the visibility of the Idaho wine industry. There are special events such as Savor Idaho that highlight many producers in one large event as well as several smaller events throughout the state such as wine dinners and special tastings. It’s a great opportunity to explore Idaho wines in a variety of ways.

 

 

Q: Do you have a favorite Idaho wine or favorite tasting room in the area – outside of House of Wine, of course? 

Kat: Another trick question. Each tasting room offers a different experience, and the large variety of wines produced in the state makes it nearly impossible to choose just one!

 

 

Q: Can you explain what the Sunnyslope Wine Trail is exactly? 

Kat: The Sunnyslope Wine Trail is a collection of wineries in the Sunnyslope area, stretching from Caldwell to Kuna. Due to their proximity and quality wines, visiting wineries along the trail allows visitors to taste an array of different varieties and wine styles from the area.  

 

 

Q: What can people expect from the Sunnyslope Tasting Flight + Avery Dining Package?

Kat: In addition to a fantastic, sumptuous dinner from the Avery, you’ll be treated to a personalized tasting of Sunnyslope wines at House of Wine. We start the flight with bubbles, then move into the three award-winning Sunnyslope wines and finish with a pour of any of our other flight wines of your choosing. Our friendly and charismatic Wine Guides share fun details and comprehensive notes about the wines, so you’ll learn about what makes these wines unique and taste them firsthand. We pick some of the best of the best, so you know the flight will be well-curated and delicious.

 

 

Q: What wine pairing would you suggest for a hearty Avery Brasserie + Bar specialty like côte de beouf? And same question for something lighter like a pear and endive salad. 

Kat: Something like a Cabernet Sauvignon is a great pairing with a hearty dish such as côte de boeuf. The rich tannins and full body match the high intensity of the dish. For lighter dishes such as a pear and endive salad, I gravitate towards lighter styled wines with crisp acidity such as a Chardonnay.

 

 

Q: Do you have a favorite bottle on Avery’s wine list? 

Kat: There are so many gems it’s hard to choose. At my core, I love classic wines with vibrant acidity that pair well with food such as Chablis. When it comes to Chablis, the Domaine Savary Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume is a standout. 

 

 

Q: Where do you see the Idaho wine industry in 10 years? 

Kat: The Idaho Wine industry is growing, and I see a steady increase in wine production and quality, new producers joining the ranks, and greater notoriety for the state. The rising tide will float all boats and Idaho is on a path to produce even more gems.

 

WINE FLIGHT + TASTING

Idaho Wine Month Package

To celebrate Idaho Wine Month, get 10% off your stay and enjoy a wine tasting flight right next door at House of Wine. After your tasting, head to dinner back at Avery Brasserie + Bar for two free drinks and 10% off your check of $100 or more. Cheers! 

Offer available June – July. House of Wine closed Mondays. 

 

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Boise, ID 83702
208 345 4567
info@theaveryboise.com
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1010 W Main St
Boise, ID 83702
208 345 4567
info@theaveryboise.com
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