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Brandon St Martin

Brandon St-Martin
February 29, 2020 | Best of Idaho, Cinder Wines, Idaho Wines, Snake River Valley, Tours + Tastings | Brandon St-Martin

Cup of Joe | Cinder Winery

[Owner Joe Schnerr sits in the background at Cinder Winery]

It’s Friday afternoon at the top of February, on a relatively balmy afternoon for Boise. This time last year, I had 12 inches of snow accumulated around the pond in my back yard in Eagle, with gaggles of Canadian geese camped out, counting down the days until mating season, when they get it on ‘til the break of dawn (outside my bedroom window). This year, it’s 58 degrees, as I deliberate if I should bother with a sweater over my collar shirt.  I’ve got time on my hands and nowhere to be, so I figure I’ll hit up a favorite wine haunt in the city, Cinder Winery, to snap a few pics for this blog post, and maybe score a hook-up trade pour (complimentary wine splash for the wine industry)...

I hail from Austin Texas, the liberal land of “Keep-Austin-Weird” and the “Leslie-The-Hippie-Transvestite-For-City-Mayor” movement. I started my wine sojourn working vineyards in Austin’s Texas Hill Country AVA (winegrowing appellation). Boise and its encompassing Snake River Valley AVA wine region resonate a strangely familiar Austin vibe (sans Leslie). Boise feels as if it’s is just about to explode at the seams - as did Austin many, many glasses of wine ago. Well, Cinder’s got the whole Austin moxy/mojo down pat - a strong cocktail of competence and confidence that says curtly, “Look man, lead, follow, or get out of the way.” For now, I’m quite happy to follow Cinder as Boise turns the page to the next chapter in its wine revolution.

Cinder is the winery you wished you’d started. It’s the wine you wished you made. It’s too school for cool. It’s also the kind of place that makes you want to tell your boss to go get destemmed (wine-nerd speak) and quit your J.O.B., so that you can hire on at “chillaxy” Cinder and gush to patrons all day about your swanky new wine gig which requires day-drinking on the clock.

With its winemaking, barreling, and bottling facility housed in this unassuming, back-lot warehouse of an industrial park, in the largely blue-collar town of Garden City, Cinder Winery maintains a beautiful aesthetic for such a utilitarian space. I have lived large in major metropolitan centers across the USA: Dallas, Austin, Denver, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York City. For displaced urbanite wineauxs such as myself, driving up to Cinder in Garden City is a metaphorical return home. All of Boise’s new West Coast transplants from Seattle, Portland, SF, LA, San Diego, Las Vegas, etc. will find solace at Cinder and repose in their wines

Laura meets me at the door. I’ve been in before, and she recognizes me with a firm handshake and a smile. I say howdy to my wine pal, Kristen Lawrence, Cinder’s outside sales diva. Laura and Kristen introduce me to Cinder owner/chief-of-cool, Joe Schnerr. Of course he’s conducting a sales staff meeting with laptops and wine. Of course he says something witty, with effusive welcome. Of course his wife/co-owner/winemaker, Melanie Krause, is literally crushing it and figuratively killing it. Of course Cinder is winning the hearts and minds of Idaho’s wine die-hards.

On your next foray into the underbelly of Boise, miss Cinder’s expertly crafted wines and rock-star hospitality at your own peril. Need I say more? I don’t think so.


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