Thursday, August 25, 2011

A visit to Thousand Springs Winery

Welcome to Thousand Springs Winery in Hagerman
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Attention, wine lovers: Vineyard for sale! (Included: 10 acres plus winery and awesome house with boat dock on the Snake River.) Paul Monahan, the ER physician who started Thousand Springs Winery a decade ago, wants out. He's had it, up to here, with the wine industry. You can see it in his tired face. You can hear it in his flat voice. The good news is: You can't taste it in his beautiful 2008 Chardonnay. (So get it before it's gone because he's not making anymore).

Thousand Springs Winery is in the village of Hagerman just east of Glenns Ferry. You have to make an appointment to visit, and Paul is very good with directions, so I'll spare you the details of getting there. Let's just say, it's ridiculously easy from I-84, and gosh darn scenic, too (especially if you like waterfalls spilling over cliffs into a wide, lazy river).

The gates (and vineyard)
Photo by Meg McKenzie
After going through the decorative iron gates (and gaping at the for-sale sign attached to the winery sign), I parked, and Paul came zipping up on an ATV. He let me into the cool, attractive tasting room, which has sort of a Southwestern by way of Provence and Tuscany sort of vibe, and we chatted as he set up some bottles for tasting.

Sadly, Paul had lost his Syrah crop to the great freeze of 2011, and he was all sold out of his luscious-sounding Merlot (though the Boise Coop and area wine shops may still have some), but he did offer me tastes of his dry rose and Chardonnay. As you may have read elsewhere on my blog, although dry wine is my preference, I have a problem with dry rose, as my taste buds automatically get set up for that sweet Zinfandel assault. I'm sure the dry rose is very good, but like Tempranillo, it's just not my thing.

Winemaker/owner Paul Monahan
Photo by Meg McKenzie
But Paul's Chard (which, a little bird told me, was tweaked by wine consultant extraordinaire Melanie Krause of Boise's Cinder) is seriously wonderful -- soulful, mellow, full of expensive notes that the cheap Chards from Columbia Valley just don't bring. He said his '06 Chard won gold at the Idaho Wine Festival, and it was easy to see why.

So, visiting Paul (who flies to work in ERs around the country in his own plane, by the way) turned out to be the ultimate personal winemaker experience -- one on one. He's a little dry (just like his rose!), but that's just the way you'd want a doctor who's about to stitch you up to be, now wouldn't you?

P.S. If the thought of owning Thousand Springs Winery and its assorted amenities tempts you, please email Realtor Mark Bolduc at I spoke with him, and he said Paul is a very motivated seller, and that the property is, indeed, amazing. Just like the Chardonnay. (If you're interested, or just curious, take a virtual tour by going to and navigate to the featured listings. Paul's is about the fifth one down. There's a slide show and video, the whole nine yards.)
Winery for sale! (Along with house on 10 acres)
Photo by Meg McKenzie

 Thousand Springs Winery
18854 U.S. Highway 30
Hagerman, ID 83332
(208) 837-4557 or (208) 420-2198,

Owner/winemaker: Paul Monahan

☻☻☻ If you're making the Eastern Idaho wine circuit (Carmela, Holesinsky, Cold Springs, Snyder, etc.), Thousand Springs is a pleasant sojourn off the expressway. Owner Paul Monahan is getting out of the wine biz, and selling off his property and his wines, so don't expect an upbeat experience. DO expect some excellent (!) wine at a good price. And a snapshot into the life of one more unique Idaho winemaker. Quick! Before he's gone!

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

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