When Pend d’Oreille Winery first opened 22 years ago, it quickly became known for its award-winning wine and fun atmosphere. That tradition continues today and is being passed on from owners Steve and Julie Meyer to Jim Bopp, who is now the head winemaker at the Downtown Sandpoint winery.
Jim first discovered his passion for winemaking in 1998 when he took a semester break from college and worked for Steve during harvest and bottling the 1997 vintage. After graduating from the University of Idaho with a teaching degree, Jim lived in Boise for a short time before he and his wife returned to his hometown of Sandpoint.
“I called Steve, and in 2007 I started working at Pend d’Oreille Winery and have been here ever since,” says Jim, who introduced his own private label in 2009, Cottage Island Wines. His signature wine is Deadhead Red made from the Petit Verdot grape.
Jim says he thoroughly appreciates the process of winemaking and likens it to an art form. “I enjoy watching the process unfold, and it’s so rewarding when someone is sitting at the bar and says how much they love the wine.”
Jim is grateful to Steve for all he has taught him about winemaking. While much will stay the same under Jim’s supervision, he says it is always exciting to introduce new varietals as well. “It’s fun to keep it interesting and changing,” he adds.
As Steve and Julie Meyer step back from the day-to-day operations of Pend d’Oreille Winery, Steve will continue to produce his Meyer wine, a favorite of many. “Julie and I will miss being involved but are really looking forward to continuing to be part of this community,” says Steve.
There are a few other changes that have also taken place at the iconic location on Cedar Street. As of April 1, the Bistro Rouge restaurant closed. While they are hoping someone will come along to open a restaurant there, Steve says they are not in a hurry and will know when the right person comes along.
There will continue to be small plates available in the tasting room, and the ever-popular weekend music will continue, making it the perfect place to kick off your evening of fun.
Being environmentally conscientious remains an important value at Pend d’Oreille Winery. “The refillable bottle is one of the ways in which we are providing customers a way to minimize the impact they have on the environment. Every month we refill about 600 bottles of wine,” says Steve.
Their grapes are grown primarily in the Columbia River Basin with the white grapes harvested in Southern Idaho. “Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are our biggest sellers, but we also produce Pinot Gris, Albarino and Riesling in the whites. Our reds include Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Mouvedre and Mablec,” Steve adds.
Pend d’Oreille Winery will continue to host wine dinners quarterly throughout the year, working with Chef Stefhanie, who is leaving the winery but is staying in the area. Also on the schedule each April is the Blend Your Own Bistro event, a chance to come and be a winemaker for a day. “That is always a fun and popular event,” says Jim.
Entertainment plays a large part in the Pend d’Oreille Winery experience. Live music on weekends, including popular musicians Bridges Home, One Street Over and Britchy, draws large crowds.
When you go, be sure to visit the winery’s gift shop, where you can find items that include logoed wine glasses and wine openers, clothing and items for the table that everyone will talk about well into their next meal.
While you are there, stop in and say hello to Jim Bopp and his crew. They will love to share a glass of wine and their knowledge of the winemaking process.
Pend d’Oreille Winery
301 Cedar St
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