Friday, July 29, 2011

A visit to Davis Creek Cellars

Talk about a 3G network! Gina Davis, along with parents George and Gayle Davis, comprise Davis Creek Cellars, based in the quaint little one-horse city of Marsing. 

Tasting room, downtown Marsing
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Remember that movie “The Last Picture Show,” that showed a town where tumbleweeds tumble down the street? Well, Marsing sort of reminded me of that place – but in a good way, let me hasten to add. Once again, I was decompressing from a visit to Ste. Chapelle, and in need of small, unique and low-key. And excellent vino. I found much of that and more at Gina Davis’ homey yet kind of sophisticated little storefront.

It’s not far off the Sunny Slope wine loop of Caldwell. Simply continue down Route 55 (or Sunny Slope Road, as it’s called in the vineyard-heavy area around Lizard Butte) till you come to the river. After going over the bridge, look for the US Bank on the right.Then slow down and look to your left. Otherwise, you might miss Davis Creek Cellars, which is in an antique building next to the teeny-tiny City Hall.
Davis Creek: A little bit homey, a little bit elegant
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Despite its surroundings, Davis Creek is far from decrepit. In fact, when I stepped inside Gina’s cute little tasting room, it almost felt like I was in someone’s home – someone with excellent taste. There’s even a loungy area with a couch and coffee table, along with the bar and high stools for sipping and socialization.

Speaking of which, a trio of wine club members were in mid-flight when I bumbled in, but they easily absorbed me into their midst (I even snagged an invite to the Treasure Valley Welcome Club!). The winemaker herself provided a studied contrast to the convivial group. Appearing somewhat shy and reserved, the dark-haired young woman began pouring me tastes of her Viognier and Chardonnay without extracting a dime from my pocket. While a sign clearly proclaimed there is a tasting fee, I had marched right past it. But because her pours were so generous, I actually instigated the transaction, pressing a five-dollar bill into her hand.

Winemaker Gina Davis with some discerning customers
Photo by Meg McKenzie
But, perhaps because of the soda-pop sweetness of the Ste. Chapelle Soft White I had just imbibed, or maybe it was the handfuls of salted nuts I had crammed into my mouth on the way to Marsing. Whatever the reason, the first few sips of Gina’s white wine struck me as a bit dry – OK, let me be frank: crazy dry. However, as my palate adjusted, things improved. Gina, a University of Idaho grad whose first wines were harvested in 2007 (she sources her grapes from Sawtooth, Skyline, Williamson and Windy Ridge, south of Meridian), is one of only a few local winemakers to tackle a Tempranillo (Indian Creek is another), a wine made from a Spanish grape that I have yet to come to terms with. (I just can’t get past that smoky cigar aroma, or maybe it’s that cabbage-y aftertaste). Whatever, I quickly made room in my glass for the next pour, which was a 2009 Portuguese-style wine called Touriga Nacional. Wowza. It alone was worth the five bucks (especially as a bottle goes for $29). The grapes for this vintage came from the Red Mountain AVA of Washington state I am forced to divulge. All the same, it was pretty amazing.

Gina's parents, George and Gayle
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Gina does not ship her wines ($16-$29) directly to customers, but according to her website, Ericson’s Fine Wines in Nampa does. You can also get a bottle at the Davis Creek booth at Capitol City farmers market Saturdays in downtown Boise – and meet her adorable parents.

Davis Creek Cellars
429 Main Street, Suite 101
P.O. Box 442, Marsing, ID 83639
(208) 794-2848;
Owner/winemaker: Gina Davis

Interior of the Davis Creek shop in Marsing
Photo by Meg McKenzie
☻☻☻☻ A short way off the Caldwell wine loop, Davis Creek Cellars is a solid four-grape experience. While I found the whites kind of hot and dry, the reds were mellow and flavorful. I also love what Gina Davis has done with the place: still completely authentic Old Idaho on the exterior, modern and cozy and eclectic inside – and her lab/Weimaraner-mix puppy, who greets you at the door with a blue chew toy, is too cute for words. There is a tasting fee, but just this once I didn’t feel shaken down but proferred it gladly. I think the whole woman-winemaker thing had me at hello. Plus the fact that her parents are in on the journey also pumped up my feelings of goodwill – and that Touriga wine of hers will blow your mind. Tasting room is open Friday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

My ratings run from one grape (poor) to five (excellent) and are based on accessibility, ambiance, overall experience and, of course, the wines.

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