Founded in 1975 in Emmett, Idaho, Ste. Chapelle is well known for producing outstanding wines from the Snake River Valley appellation. Moved to its present facility in 1978, the winery grew quickly, producing Riesling and Chardonnay as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Its popular “Soft” series continues to expand with offerings of Soft Red, Soft White and Soft Huckleberry.
Idaho is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in America west of the Mississippi River. Long, warm days, cool, crisp nights, high elevations and volcanic, loam-covered soils make this region one of a kind.
Winemaker since 2011
Award-winning winemaker and Idaho native Meredith Smith has been immersed in Snake River Valley viticulture and winemaking since 2009. Walla Walla-trained in winemaking and wine grape-growing, she brings her skill and artistry to build on Ste. Chapelle’s legacy.
Meredith Smith is the winemaker of Ste. Chapelle Winery, Idaho's largest and oldest continuous running winery. She joined Ste. Chapelle for harvest 2016 after working for seven years in the Snake River Valley wine industry at Sawtooth Winery.
Although she long enjoyed wine, it wasn't until Meredith read a quote in 2006, "Pay attention to what you pay attention to," that she left behind careers in real estate development and accounting to pursue wine-making. "Almost all my books and magazines subscriptions were wine and viticulture-related, so I enrolled in the Washington State University viticulture program," she says.
She graduated with a professional viticulture certificate and jumped in at Sawtooth Winery to work its 2009 harvest. Within months, she was promoted to Assistant Winemaker and in 2013, again as Associate Winemaker. In 2010 Meredith took on concurrent work as a viticulture technician for both Skyline and Sawtooth (Idaho's largest vineyards) to estimate yields and track vineyard statistics. Meredith says she felt fortunate to be mentored in winemaking at Sawtooth Winery, also in the Snake River Valley near Ste. Chapelle. "I also felt privileged to work in the vineyard with so many different varieties and clones, gather facts on all these and see the results in the wines we make," she says.
Her favorite wine to make is Chardonnay for the challenge of standing out, given its popularity, many styles and critical subjectivity. She also enjoys making Rhone varietal wines. She finds the Snake River Valley AVA a promising region for Rhone varietals; she and many other area winemakers realize the potential and resulting wines. The Snake River Valley AVA is unique in that its different varietals have consistently resulted in great wine, she says. In addition to growing great fruit, Idahoans enjoy the living in a beautiful outdoor Mecca that offers numerous activities year round.
When Meredith isn't making wine, you'll find this mom and outdoors enthusiast skiing, mountain biking, trail running, hiking, backpacking and fly fishing. She also loves cooking, music, and dogs.
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