Thursday, October 13, 2011

A visit to Cold Springs Winery

Bill and Bing Ringert at their Cold Springs Winery
Photo by Meg McKenzie

When Cold Springs took gold this week for their Astrology Merlot, the first thing I thought was, it couldn't have happened to nicer people. Bill and Bing Ringert have been quietly running their winery out in Hammett for the past 10 years and are some of the pioneers of the Idaho wine movement. They were so very gracious to me on my recent swing through the eastern part of the Snake River AVA wine trail (more on that later) I cheered when Andy Perdue announced their gold as one of the Wine Press Northwest’s first awards of the day at the blind tasting held Columbus Day at Ste. Chapelle in Caldwell.

The next thing I thought was: Where can I get some of that wine right away (Boise being a good hour’s drive from Hammett)? My first thought was the Garden City Fred Meyer on State Street across from the racetrack (it’s at 5425 Chinden, in case anyone’s interested). Why? Its selection of Idaho wines had impressed me (it’s a big, spacious section next to the produce, not stuck over by the frozen meats like at the other store), and so had their prices.

And I was not disappointed. Friendly and officious wine steward Austin Drehmel led me over to the Cold Springs’ display, and they did have the '07 Merlot (hooray!) And at a good price, too. (I think I paid $12 per bottle.)

Coming up the hill to the winery
Photo by Meg McKenzie

But back to my vineyard visit. If you read my Holesinsky posting, you’ll recall it was 4 o’clock by the time I hit the road from Buhl, and I was really pushing it to get to Cold Springs by closing time at 5 (I’d decided to catch them on the flip side, since even Idaho Wine Girls have their limits when it comes to tasting wine before breakfast). But as luck wouldn’t have it, the on-ramp to the highway was closed at Buhl, so I had to drive 30 miles east to Jerome to get on I-84! I knew I wouldn’t make it, so I called ahead to the winery, and thankfully heard they would stay open for me if I got there soon. So I floored it (luckily no ISP were in the area that day)!

One thing that was in my favor: Unlike some vineyards that are tucked away up impenetrable mazes of country roads, it’s really easy to find: “COLD SPRINGS” is writ huge -- bigger than a billboard -- on the roof of their wine shed. I was raising dust clouds up the dirt road through their acres of vines, and there at the top was an unprepossessing, but very welcome sight: their sunny tasting room and winery.

Beth Ringert with award-winning Merlot
Photo by Meg McKenzie
Waiting for me inside was a double delight: the owners themselves, Bill and Bing! The only people missing were their daughter, Beth, who designs their lovely new labels, and Jamie Martin, their obviously very talented master winemaker. 

Later on, however, at a pouring at Fred Meyer in Garden City, I had the opportunity to talk to Beth and get the skinny on her scientific/artistic labels. She's a delight: down to earth and fun to chat with. And I have to tell you: their Astrology Merlot just got better and better with every taste. Right up there with the finest of (mystical Washington wine country) Walla Walla.

I really enjoyed getting to know the Ringerts. But enough about me: Go see for yourself.

Cold Springs Winery
7853  W. Ringert Lane
Hammett, ID 83627
208.366.7993 email:
Owners: Bill and Bing Ringert
Winemaker: Jamie Martin

Easy to find: just look to the left as you come over the hill to Hammett from Boise: The huge sign on their roof will just smack you in the face. The tasting room is comfy and cozy, the Ringerts and their help are just as friendly and unassuming as you could find (and Bill is a lawyer! Showing there’s an exception to every rule). Their wines are great, and fairly priced. Open Saturday-Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment. $5 tasting fee applied to purchase.

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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