Leslie Preston was living in Napa when she first started an Idaho wine label. “Oh, the spud wine is here” her friends would joke when her truck of Idaho grapes would cross the California border (similarly confusing Ag border guards who’d ask why Idaho grapes were coming in and rather than California grapes going out).
Prior to getting involved with spud wine, however, Leslie had a 20 year career in California that serendipitously started with landing a teaching job at U.C. Davis – for French literature. Surrounded by winemaking students, her interest in wine grew to the point of completing an MS in Enology at Davis. After graduating, she worked in Carneros before landing a dream job at Stags’ Leap Winery.
However, a baby conceived with her husband while in New Zealand, nine months later born a boy, led Preston to prioritize that she wanted to be a mom and a winemaker and she needed a simpler way to do both. She stayed home with her son for six months contemplating how to produce juice on a small yet meaningful scale. She had grown up in Idaho, and felt the grapes had potential. In 2006, she came to “play with grapes” and made an Idaho Syrah which led to four years of trucking grapes across the border to Napa to make the wine before finally relocating to Boise permanently.
The name “Coiled” refers to the shape of a wound-up snake, and is an homage to the animal and river referenced in the state’s first AVA, Snake River.
Her work was rewarded in 2014 with the announcement she’d won Idaho Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest; Preston’s Dry Riesling landed in The Seattle Times’ top 50 wines of the Pacific Northwest last year.
Signature Wines and Prices:
- Sidewinder (Sryah): $15
- Dry Riesling $17
- Sparkling Riesling (coming soon)
- Black Mamba (Red Blend) for $35
To what other region in the world, if applicable, would you compare the Snake RiverAVA? There are definitely parallels to Eastern Washington. I’ve also heard people compare the Snake River to Amador County in California.
What grapes do you think have the greatest potential in the region? Given our ability to tweak the water, the growth, and sun exposure, I think Riesling and Syrah would do well here. Rhone varietals should thrive.
What are the pros and cons of working in Idaho? I wouldn’t choose to make wine anywhere else. It’s a small industry, and I love surprising people with my wine. I think what’s great here is the bulk of my wine is drunk within the local community and its thrilling the product is local.
A definite negative is the lack of fruit and lack of infrastructure. I came from Napa and had access to everything I needed there, while making wine here requires more planning and logistics. For example, last spring, I was bottling in this facility and I bottle under screwcap. I had used a truck from Precept, but when suddenly it wasn’t available, I had to go to California, rent one, and drive it back myself (I didn’t have to drive it, but I am a bit cheap; justifiably so, I think.)
What are your primary markets? Outside of Idaho, I have a small-scale distributor in Oregon. For your readers in New York, they can order wines online!
Any other thoughts? We had a happy life and I would’ve had a happy career in Napa, but I found the fruit here so compelling, so it was simply a not-to-be-missed opportunity.
My Tasting Notes: I highly recommend visiting Preston at East 44th or finding her wines in a Boise restaurant, if in the area. She’s got training and talent and is an Idaho winemaker to watch. She makes the best Riesling I tasted in Idaho and her prices, like most in Idaho, and very reasonable.
Dry Riesling 2013 $17: Fruit comes from Block 17 at Skyline vineyards. Although called “dry” the wine has 3.5 g/l RS (to balance the exuberant nose says Preston). I’d prefer a hint lower RS, but like the lime-citrus, apricot, tropical fruit, and honeysuckle notes aromatics and flavors. A vibrant, medium-bodied wine with a crisp finish.
Sidewinder 2012 $25: Plump and approachable with black pepper spice, meat and earth on nose and palate. Black fruit core, soft tannins, broad mouthfeel, and a pleasing bitter edge to the finish. Fruit comes from Sawtooth and Skyline Vineyards.
EAST 44th STREET TASTING ROOM HOURS
Cinder: 7 Days a week, 11-5 p.m.
Telaya: Fri. – Sat., 12-6 p.m.
Coiled: Fri. – Sat., 12-5 p.m.