Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A visit to Woodriver Cellars

Woodriver's tasting room on Rte 16
Photo by Meg McKenzie
The tasting room is conveniently located on Route 16, the road between Emmett and Boise. Coming from the south, I thought the production building was the tasting room. After blundering around, I was saved by a vineyard employee who pointed me to a fancy building that was delightfully air-conditioned on a hot July day. A U-shaped bar wraps around a huge flat-screen tuned to the Food Network, and a paneled corking room. The view is of a rose garden, bocce court and big tent set up for a wedding.

Ryan, my pourer,
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Ryan was new on the job but was pleasant and quite knowledgeable about the wines. He told me all the grapes used in the wines are from a 30-acre vineyard in Wilder, plus 6 acres the head winemaker, Neil Glancey, owns near Glenn's Ferry; that the wines are aged in French oak barrels; and they are sold in local wine stores and available at some area restaurants. Unfortunately, although I was the only guest in the tasting room, Ryan's attention was divided between me and the demands of his manager, who was tutoring him on learning a task at the cash register. Then a guy and his kids came in to pick up a case of the sweet white the wife had ordered at the Capitol City Market the weekend before – and my fifth choice from the "5 tastes for $5" list went unchosen as Ryan set about locating and prepping the case.

My picks? Being more of a dry girl, I detoured away from the sweet pink and white. I tried the 2009 Chardonnay, the Meritage -- a new release the winery was preparing to celebrate the following weekend with bocce ball, appetizers, 20 percent off the new wine and a raffle -- the Blue Franc and the Cab Franc. The Meritage is a blend of 30 percent Cabernet, 30 percent Merlot, 30 percent Malbec and 10 percent Cab Franc. Of the wines I tried, the 2008 Cabernet Franc was by far my favorite, though the fact that all of the wines were served room temperature didn’t help their cause.
Rod De Armond in Boise
Photo by Meg McKenzie
On a recent Saturday, I also visited Woodriver’s booth at the Capitol City Market. There, sales director Rod De Armond, joined by winemaker Neil Glancey's dad, poured some sips of the sweet pink and white. He told me the vineyard used to be known as Eagle Knoll and that new owner Dave Buich bought it in 2006.

Woodriver Cellars
3705 N. Highway 16
Eagle ID 83616
(208) 286-9463

☻☻☻ - Woodriver picks up points for having an easily accessible tasting room and for being at Capitol City Market in downtown Boise each Saturday. There’s a $5 tasting fee at the winery. Prices range from $9 a bottle for the Sweet White to $30 a bottle for the Sparkling Chardonnay (which they were not offering the day of my visit)
My tasting room scale? From 1 grape (poor) to 5 grapes (excellent) based on accessibility, ambiance, my overall experience and, of course, the wines. 

Owner: Dave Buich
Winemaker: Neil Glancey
Sales Manager: Rod De Armond

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