Monday, September 30, 2013

Working man's wine tasting

GARDEN CITY, Idaho -- This drag strip of a town just west of Boise is best known for its bawdy bars. I'm told.

But on 44th Street, a half block off the main drag in a warehouse that looks like any other in what can be a seedy looking little town, three family-owned wineries share equipment and space, including a tasting room that is little more than a big corner of the warehouse carved out for the purpose.

It's a throwback to the startup days of other, older wine regions like the Willamette Valley or Walla Walla before they got a bit big for their britches. At 44th Street, the winemakers-owners are behind the counter doing the pouring and the chatting up. No faux chateau here, no sirree.

Carrie Sullivan talks about Telaya wines.
In this corner we have Telaya, owned and run by Earl and Carrie Sullivan, whose story is both unique and familiar in the boutique wine business. Carrie is pouring syrahs and a cabernet made from Washington grapes, and it's good enough to buy some bottles and join the wine club. (Telaya comes from combining Tetons -- Carrie's favorite place to visit is the Grand Tetons -- and playa, which is Spanish for beach. Any guesses where Earl likes to spend his down time?)

In the other corner we have Coiled (Snake River -- coiled; get it?) run by Leslie Preston, with an assist from her husband. They, too, have a unique but familiar story.

In the middle is Cinder, owned by Melanie Krause and Joe Schnerr with, yes, another unique but familiar story. Kathleen likes the off-dry viognier enough to buy a case. I'm guessing the name Cinder comes from the loamy soil in which the Idaho grapes thrive, created, in part, by ancient volcanic activity.

In five years, assuming all three can survive (it's a tough business, particularly in the early years), they'll probably be using only Idaho grapes and their wine-making will be that much better. We'll be able to say we knew them when.

No comments:

Post a Comment