It is not often that you run across a winery that truly defines a region, AVA and the topography of an area with their branding. Sitting at dinner recently sipping a bottle of the Coiled Sidewinder from Idaho’s Snake River Valley AVA, the thought occurred.
The Coiled label and branding not only represents the region; it also signifies owner/winemaker, Leslie Preston’s own life, a story with lots of twist and turns, winding its way to where it is now. While on a media trip to discover the wines of Idaho, I meet Leslie. When meeting her you immediately recognize her passion and love for her wine. You also recognize her commitment to what she is creating in her home state.
Leslie’s roots began in Idaho but as we follow paths to our destiny, the course sometimes veers unexpectedly. Leslie pursued French literature after spending time as an exchange student in France. During those visits she discovered wine. Her career brought her to UC Davis where she taught French literature. One thing led to another and Leslie enrolled in UC Davis’ Viticulture and Enology program.
After graduating with an M.S. in Enology, Leslie trained at Clos du Bois and Saintsbury. Soon after she landed a job at Stag’s Leap Winery. Motherhood entered the picture and she sought a more simplified life. Leslie was not cut out to be a stay at home mom so ironically she returned to her roots, purchasing Idaho grapes and making wine at home in Napa. Her family relocated back to Idaho where Leslie is now in her 8th harvest, creating wine under the Coiled label.
Artist Julia Allen designed her label with artwork representing the skin of a snake. The snake coils up and winds around just like the Snake River that runs through Idaho’s first AVA, the Snake River Valley, established in 2007. The snake molts its skin in a process called ecdysis, which makes room for new growth. As the old skin sheds causing a variation in texture and design, the topography of this region is a varying assortment of lava rock and lake sediment soils. Even the top of her bottle reflects the snake theme. Like the snake that twists and turns Leslie wine cap twists off with a screw cap.
Leslie’s wine is pure to its Idaho roots. With a deep love for Riesling, she creates an excellent dry Riesling. Leslie also produces a sparkling Riesling called Rizza. The name is the Australian nickname for Riesling. Rizza not only makes its own statement but was Idaho’s first sparkling wine when first released. Using the traditional method, this sparkling wine is very dry and refreshing.
In Idaho Leslie has started what she calls the “Riesling Revolution”. The 2015 Dry Riesling is a perfect example of what Idaho winemakers are able to create from Riesling grown in their state. Coiled Riesling has prominent wonderful flavors of stone fruit.
Finally sampling the 2014 Sidewinder in my home, connected all the dots of the Coiled branding and reference to this wonderful but relatively unknown AVA. Again Sidewinder represents the meandering Snake River as it flows through Idaho’s Snake River Valley. The wine blending Syrah, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah is rich and silky. It is fruit-forward with flavors of Boysenberry and blueberry with hints of white pepper on the finish. This is a balanced and smooth wine.
Leslie’s wine like most wineries in the Snake River Valley AVA symbolizes the pioneering spirit that winemakers are paving establish their mark on the budding Idaho wine industry. To quote Leslie, let’s lift a glass of wine, saying, “Here’s to all those finding their winding path.”
This is the first of a series of articles I will be writing on my media trip to Idaho’s Snake River Valley AVA.
Note: Photo credit for the featured image above is courtesy of Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine. It pictures the Leslie Preston in the Sawtooth Vineyard.