Idaho isn’t just potatoes. In fact, long before potatoes were planted, grapes were grown here. Idaho was the first state in the Pacific Northwest to plant grapes, way back in the 1860s. It wasn’t just farmers churning out Chuck, either. Idaho wines were nationally renowned, winning medals at expositions in the 1870s and 1880s in Omaha, Buffalo, St. Louis and Portland. So what happened? One word: Prohibition. All of Idaho’s wineries shut down. Wine grapes were not planted again until 1970. Today there are nearly 40 wineries throughout Idaho; the highest concentration just happens to be in the fertile volcanic soils in the Snake River Valley south and west of Boise. In 2007, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau recognized the Snake River Valley as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). Five million acres (roughly half the size of the Columbia Valley AVA), the Snake River AVA includes some of the highest-elevation vineyards in the country (some over 3,000 feet) and is the only AVA in Idaho. Having been designated an AVA means the Snake River Valley’s soil, microclimates and topography are unique and capable of producing excellent wines. Thirteen wineries are within a short drive of Boise. Idaho Wines (website below) has a downloadable wine country touring map. Don’t want to worry about drinking and driving? Idaho Winery Tours (http://www.idahowinerytours.com, 208-890-6627) offers custom, guided tours of wineries, tasting rooms and vineyards. Whether you enjoy wine or just love the ambiance of vineyards, visiting the surrounding wineries is one of the top things to do in Boise.