Sunday, August 14, 2011

A visit to Indian Creek Winery

The Stowe family's vineyard is one of the oldest in Canyon County, after Ste. Chapelle and Hell's Canyon, going all the way back to 1982. Tucked away in Kuna a bit east of the Sunny Slope wine trail, it's actually one of the closest established vineyards to downtown Boise (take the Meridian Road exit (Exit 44) off I-84, and then find your way south to the corner of McDermott and Avalon Road).

The entrance to Indian Creek is hard to miss!
Photo by Meg McKenzie

But don't go looking for a giant temple of the vine, such as you might find at Ste. Chapelle (which has grown from its humble beginnings in 1979 and is now owned by the gigundo California Ascentia Wine Estates and pumps out hundreds of thousands of cases a year). No, Bill and Mui Stowe's Indian Creek is more on the intimate, hitch-up-a-chair-and-pour-a-glass type of place. And it's now run day-to-day by their daughter Tammy and son-in-law Mike.

In fact, after locating the two signs that point you to Indian Creek (one's old and time-worn, the other new and creative), I felt like I had just pulled in to an old friend's driveway. The building itself is a no-frills shed-type structure. But some folks were enjoying the bucolic setting at a picnic table to the west of the winery as I strolled around searching for the elusive entrance to the tasting room. Luckily, a mind-reading black puppy led me straight to the cutely decorated green door on the side of the building.

Mike McClure mans the down-home tasting room
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Inside, I was greeted with a friendly smile by winemaker/official son-in-law Mike McClure, who was hosting some customers and/or old friends at the bar. I'm telling you, it's hard to make the distinction here. Very low-key and nice. The cozy tasting room itself was the usual mix of product displays, wine bottles bearing their red-white-and-blue ribbons and wine competition medals, and the bar.

But Indian Creek distinguishes itself from the rest of the Snake River AVA pack by producing one of the few Pinot Noirs to come out of the region, as well as whites like Riesling, Chardonnay and Viognier (which took gold at the 2010 Northwest Wine Summit), a rose and small batches of Merlot, Cabernet and even a Port. And in my travels around Boise I've found quite a slew of restaurants and wine bars actively pushing Indian Creek wines. Cool!

I tried some of their yummy white Pinot Noir (which actually looks like a rose and drinks like a white Zin). It was fruity and refreshing, and would go perfectly with barbecue or spicy food like tacos.

Just before I left, Tammy Stowe-McClure came in, and visited. She was very perky, nice, and like her husband, down to earth.

The funky entrance to the tasting room
Photo by Meg McKenzie
As my new dog friend led me back out to my car, I assessed my impressions. They were distinctly warm and nurturing -- yes, Indian Creek gives off kind of a lost-decade, bell-bottom, fringe suede hippie vibe. But hey, what's wrong with that? Good wine, good friends, good karma.

Indian Creek Winery
1000 N. McDermott Road
Kuna, ID 83634
(208) 922-4791;

Owners: The Stowe Family
Winemaker: Mike McClure

☻☻☻ Indian Creek is not hard to find and has a friendly, low-key atmosphere. It's nice to see one of the original wine-making families in Caldwell County still cranking out damn drinkable vintages. The grounds are tree-shaded and attractive, and the tasting room welcoming. The wines are good, too. Plus: No tasting fee! Open weekends from noon to 5 p.m. 

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


  1. Thanks for visiting us. Hope you can spend a bit more time on your next trip and enjoy the rest of our selection.

  2. Yes, thanks for visiting! Come again! We think you got us and Sawtooth mixed up as far as the Tempranillo goes....we've been sold out of that since February and therefore - are not tasting it (you mentioned trying Sawtooth's before you visited us) but would love to save a bottle of ours for you to try when we release the new 2009 Tempranillo this fall. Cheers!

  3. I would love to come back soon for a re-taste and to spend more time visiting with you. (I met Bill at the IWC vintner seminar at Skyline last week. We had a nice chat!)