Sunday, September 18, 2011

A visit to Holesinsky Winery

Welcome to the winery (cool sign)
Photo by Meg McKenzie
I happened upon James Holesinsky's delightful winery near the end of a grueling day of tasting wine (I know ... but someone's got to do it!) on my tour of the Twin Falls area, in which I covered five vineyards in one day. I had actually arranged to visit the weekend before but then scheduling problems intervened. This time when I called I got no reply, so I was taking a chance in making the side trip to Buhl on my way back to Boise from Hagerman. Unbelievably (for me), I didn't get lost finding his place south of I-84 and west of Twin Falls.

And in a further stroke of luck, Holesinsky was hosting a bus tour, and the winery was not only open, it was hopping! (James has a lovely deck behind the tiny tasting room, and a local investment club was making merry in the back as I tentatively lurked around in the front). But James' helper found me, summoned JH himself, and the rest of the hour went by quickly as he charmingly opened bottle after bottle of his certified organic wines for me to try.

James Holesinsky with his tasty organic wines
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Now I'd tasted samples of JH's wine at the Capital City Market in Boise, and couldn't reach much of an opinion from the tiny cupful. But with a bigger serving, and a freshly opened bottle -- and the winemaker himself right in front of me ... wow, what a difference.

James has whimsically named vintages (Octopus, Unicorn, etc.) and quirkily designed bottles (Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee), as well as a disarmingly off-the-cuff attitude, but let me say this: his wines are totally, seriously good. Especially that 2009 Fat Men Merlot -- at $15-18 a bottle retail, quite the light and spicy, crowd-pleasing bargain. He also has a new Unicorn Syrah Rose that has been garnering raves and awards.

A tour group enjoys food and beverages at Holesinsky's
Photo by Meg McKenzie
He told me he produces a couple thousand cases a year, and ages his wines in 100 percent French oak, and it ferments in the barrel. He's also dedicated to running an organic vineyard -- no pesticides here.

Though his attention was divided between his paying guests and the unannounced interloper -- me! -- James was gracious and lovely. In fact, he invited me to hang around till after the bus tour left so we could chat further, but I was on a mission to make it to Cold Springs Winery before it closed at 5 o'clock, so I reluctantly took my leave. But here's a promise, James -- I'll be back, with a group!

Holesinsky's Vineyard and Winery
4477 Valley Steppe Drive
Buhl, ID 83316

Kelsey Swope and Dustin Jones
pour JH wine in downtown Boise
Photo by Meg McKenzie
☻☻☻☻☻ James' tasting room schedule is a little uncertain (in general, it's best to call ahead), but if you can't make it to Buhl, he's reaching out to an eager wine-drinking public from his remote (albeit charming) outpost by manning booths at several area farmer's markets (Boise, Sun Valley, etc.). I'm here to tell you, though, a trip to his vineyard makes a big difference in enjoying his product, which includes some first-class (organic!) wines (i.e., the 2009 Fat Men Merlot), and a lovely, friendly vibe.  

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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