For more than a decade, 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards has been producing grapes for award winning wines at its hillside location in the southeast corner of Gem County. This fall, the vineyard and tasting room will add the dimensions of being a producing winery as well.
Gary and Martha Cunningham have broken ground on what building permits call a “crush facility.” That means beginning with this fall’s harvest, 3 Horse Ranch grapes will no longer be trucked to Marsing to be processed into wine. The crushing, mixing, aging and bottling will all take place in a new center under construction on the vineyard site on Pearl Road.
The new winery should be fully ready to receive grapes Sept. 1, when the first harvest of Pinot Gris begins, and the new Tasting Room and Viticultural Center are expected to be open by October. late fall.
“We have the benefit of already having a tasting room,” Martha Cunningham said. “That means we can focus on the production facility first and then move the tasting room and visitor facility as it is ready.”
3 Horse Ranch is the largest vineyard that is counted as part of the Eagle Foothills American Viticulture Area (AVA), a district of the Snake River Valley Appellation. This is the only AVA located entirely in Idaho. They are the largest win producer in the state, selling premium win in the Northwest since 2008.
The footprint that the vineyard makes above the dry creek bed that runs through the historic 850 acre ranch property actually grew this year as well. The Cunninghams have added an additional five acres of four different varietals of Pinot Noir grapes.
The goal of the expansion is two fold. One is to bring wine production home. That means a personal touch in the production of the grapes grown in their vineyard. It eventually can accommodate a custom crushing operation for other vineyards in the area.
The other is to create a destination venue at 3 Horse Vineyards. The plans are for a setting for win lovers of all kinds with wine tasting, vineyard views, locally sources cuisine, event centers for parties, tours of the vineyards, cellars and win making process. Additional the Cunningham’s foresee offering classes focused on food/win pairings, wine blending and viticultural practices.