Continued from People Make Wine in Idaho. I’ve Got Proof!
Garden City, a former Chinese community that once served as Boise’s Chinatown, was so named because they grew vegetables for the pioneers. The main drag is still called “Chinden Boulevard”. Now, artists, breweries, and wineries have been finding refuge in the cheap cost of warehouse space and the East 44th Street building leased by Cinder Winery is no different.
Winemaker Melanie Krause, a former assistant winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, returned to Boise in 2006 with her husband Joe Schnerr, a chemist at the time (although Joe admitted to being involved in wine from a very young age as an altar boy). She started a winery consulting business which gave her inside access to “visit the vineyards and taste through the cellars of most of the producers in Idaho.”
Krause’s first attempt making Idaho wine was a small amount of co-fermented Syrah and Viognier. Encouraged by the results and her observations of the region’s potential, Krause decided to start the label Cinder with her husband, a reference to the layers of volcanic soil found in Idaho’s vineyards. By 2007, she and Joe had added white wines to their red-strong line-up. They now produce nearly 5000 cases spread over 9 different wines. All of Krause’s growers are within an hour from her winery; she purchases fruit from six different vineyards.
This year, Krause was acknowledged for her contributions to the Idaho wine industry and achievements in general with a 40 Under 40 Tastemaker award from Wine Enthusiast.
Signature Wines and Prices
- Viognier $18
- Syrah $28
- Tempranillo $28
Which grapes do you think grow especially well here? Viognier attracted me most of all the whites due to its amazing aromas. I find that many regions have difficulty preserving its delicacy, but here in the Snake River AVA, I am able to get precision and fruit expression with grace and high acid. Syrah does really well in this type of region too, as does Tempranillo. I think we should see more Spanish varieties planted here.
To what other region in the world would you compare the Snake River AVA? I’d say Ribera del Duero and Washington State. Ribera is a better match in that it’s at a higher elevation; both have a continental climate: hot, dry summers and cold winters.
What are the pros and cons of making wine in Idaho? The cost of land here is significantly less than other wine regions, and pest management is a bit easier given our dry climate. We are the next great American wine growing region, and thus on the cutting edge. We’ve got the excitement and freedom to explore and be pioneers. Of course being a new region is a double edged sword, and we don’t have as many vineyards planted as we need.
Are there any water issues out here? Of the western states, Idaho has one of the best water management programs. As of now, they don’t have the pressures of, say California, although having water rights is key for growers.
What are your primary markets? We are distributed throughout the state; we also have a wine club with members from 20 different states plus a small market in Jackson Hole, WY and Montana. As for the East Coast, we need a distributor if you know of one! For now, we can ship directly to customers in New York. Go online to CinderWines.com to order.
Any other thoughts? It’s fun if people can get to Boise, to have them come out and visit us. In addition to the other wineries, we have an art gallery upstairs. The artist movement in the region has been going on for about 15 years, but the beverage industry has really picked up with wineries and breweries moving in, plus two new musical performance venues.
My tasting notes I found Cinder’s wines well-made, showing the exciting potential of Idaho. The wines had fruit depth tempered by a savory edge; no jam bombs in the mix. I particularly liked:
Dry Viognier 2013 Peach and citrus notes on a vibrant palate. Some floral character and almond on the bright finish. The majority of the fruit comes from the Williamson Vineyard and was picked a little earlier to retain freshness.
Tempranillo 2012 Dark and spicy, with a deep red and black fruit core, a frame of dusty tannins, and a hint of earth and bitterness on the finish. Not common yet, Melanie thinks Tempranillo and other Spanish grapes will do well in Idaho.