Local vintner favors quality over quantity

Out on Baldy Road, squeezed in between building supply stores, Stephen and Julie Meyer are doing a little squeezing of their own. Chardonnay grapes give up their contents to the pair, as well as Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and other varietals chosen by Stephen to become the essences of the Earth we call wine.

The Meyers have a long fascination with the craft of the vintner. They worked the grape harvest in Meursalt, France together in 1985, a full decade before opening the Pend Oreille Winery in Sandpoint. Since then, Stephen, who has the true vintner's drive, has worked at many wine-related jobs, include the humble task of trapping vine-eating gophers.

The Meyers winery will produce only about 1,000 cases of wine this year, but the small quantity is no reflection of the quality. One of Stephen's favorite quotes is "We're not here to make mediocre wines."

And his wine is proving up. Stephen's wines have been winning awards and attention since his '92 Chardonnay and '87 La Premier Cuver won first and second in an amateur wine competition at the Santa Cruz County Fair. The Meyers' '95 Cabernet Franc continued the tradition by being named Best Idaho Wine and receiving a silver medal at the Northwest Wine Summit.

The Pend Oreille Winery is at 1067 Baldy Industrial Park Road in Sandpoint. They offer tasting and tours on Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and at other times by appointment.

- Sandy Compton

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