Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A visit to Cinder

Welcome to Cinder
Photo by Meg McKenzie
I was pumped about visiting Cinder. Despite its somewhat off-putting name, I had heard many tales of wonder about winemaker Melanie Krause, who makes award-winning wine for Huston Vineyards as well as her own label. I knew that she was a chemist and had been described as "very shy" but that her outgoing husband Joe had personality enough for two.

Naturally, according to the unwritten rules of my wine quest (so far), by the time I got to the unprepossessing warehouse off Chinden Boulevard, Cinder was closed. In fact, after driving around back to scope things out, I almost spent the night there, since a woman (Angie Reff from Periple, the adjacent winery at the front of the building, it turned out) was just locking the gates.

The following weekend I returned, just in time to see a big black party bus roll up. Great, I thought grouchily, not looking forward to an elbowing shoving match a la the ever-popular Ste. Chapelle tasting room. But luck (sort of) was on my side this time, as the party bussers trooped in to Periple first, leaving me with the lovely Cinder tasting room all to my little self.

Don't let the industrial vibe fool you.
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Let me say this: It's one of the most compelling tasting rooms I have ever been in. Beautifully and dramatically lit, it had a soaring ceiling and a concrete-y SoHo gallery kind of feel, but with rustic French oak barrels, wine racks and workers' galoshes lining the walls instead of avant-garde artwork. Two attractive, blonde pourer-people, Kristen Laurence and Adele Nyqvist, welcomed me with friendly smiles and talked knowledgeably about the various wines that Melanie had crafted. Alas, however, neither Melanie nor Joe was there, which bummed me out. But the delicious wine almost made up for it. I wasn't feeling the dry rose, but immediately warmed to the dry Viognier, which is aged in steel tanks, as opposed to the off-dry Viognier, which is aged in new French oak.

While I was tasting, we chatted. Melanie, Kristen told me, attended Washington State University and had worked at Ste. Michelle, the ne plus ultra winery of Washington state. I also tried her Cabernet Merlot blend, which has won a bunch of awards and was very good but up there in price (for poverty-stricken types like myself) at $27 a bottle.

Not the winemaker, but friendly pourer Kristen Laurence
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Next-door, I could hear the party bus people being herded out for their attack on Cinder, so Adele took the opportunity to show me around the wine-making room, which was enormous and very interesting. I felt like I was being taken backstage, which was a very nice feeling indeed.

107 E. 44th St.
Garden City, ID 83714
joe@cinderwines.com; (208) 407-4347

Owners: Melanie Krause and Joe Schnerr
Winemaker: Melanie Krause

The party bus has arrived!
Photo by Meg McKenzie
☻☻☻☻- Located a stone's throw from downtown Boise, down a tree-lined lane (East 44th Street) just off the mishmash of commerce that is Garden City, Cinder Winery appears to be a shabby, weird warehouse on its face. But once you climb up the metal steps and step into the tasting room, it's like entering another world. Beautiful! Even though the winemaker was MIA, the pourers were so charming and affable, it almost made up for my disappointment. Plus the wines are really very good. No tasting fee. Open Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. (One grape deducted for absence of winemaker/owner and for having extremely limited hours; otherwise, it's a full-on five-grape experience).

1 comment:

  1. So, not one day after I posted my Cinder review (pure coincidence, but ... whatever), Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman of Wine Press N/W wrote in the Idaho Statesman about selecting Cinder's 2010 Dry Viognier (MY favorite, too, if you look above) as a favorite 2010 release: "Williamson Vineyard fruit produces remarkable Viognier in the hands of Idaho's top winemakers ... It screams orange Creamsicle in the nose, with hints of lemon sorbet, dusty apple and canned peaches. The fruit is joined in the mouth by flavors of yellow grapefruit ... Make no mistake, this ranks among the best in the Northwest."