Brandon St-Martin, Certified Sommelier, CWP, CSW [Click For Bio]
BSM is available as a travel writer, adventure guide, commentator, and photographer for periodicals, publications, radio-tv-film, online media, private or ticketed wine travel destinations, wine and craft beverage seminars, wine/food symposia, and wine competitions.
[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.
So, fun fact, November 2nd is known throughout Catholic Christendom as All Souls Day. It differs from All Saints Day on November 1st, as All Saints celebrates passed souls ascended into Heaven. All Souls honors all souls, including those in Purgatory. In Mexico, they have a slightly different take on All Souls, which incorporates certain traditions of the early Aztec empire, presently referred to as Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos). Day of the Dead is a celebratory time to honor passed relatives and ancestors, with painted sugar-skull faces, skeletons, more skeletons, visiting/repairing grave sites...you know, live it up a little...for the un-living. Well, one of my bonus-girls (step-daughters), is celebrating Day of the Dead for altogether different purposes: it’s her FOURTEENTH birthday!...now THAT’S SCARY!...
Grace Von Thaden...Fourteen. Wow.
Grace, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know you over these past 18 months. You are special. You are slow to anger, quick to forgive, very funny and fun-loving, quick-witted, wry, and poised in public with friends and grownups alike. You are compassionate and empathetic, with unique gifts to positively influence those around you in endearing ways. People naturally warm to your charms. Your sisters look to you for strength, humility, humor...and your grace.
You have endured a lot of turmoil over the past two years, none of it really your asking or doing. You are to be commended for your steadiness while navigating these stormy seas. It has been a great honor and joy for your mother and me to watch you turn the corner from childhood to adolescence, as you rapidly approach womanhood. You are finding your own way and your own voice in the world, and that is the greatest gift you can bestow upon yourself at this time.
Grace, you are also a HUGE GOOFBALL, and I appreciate your nerdy, sometimes GROSS, sense of humor, along with your ability to laugh at yourself and not take the world so seriously!
Thank you for being you. Thank you for being patient with me, as I work to become a better friend and mentor to you. It is my great privilege to know you and witness your many successes in life. Great things are in store for you! Keep up the great attitude and work ethic!
Your best is before you. Dream big. Do big things. God has gifted you with all you require...
“Life is too short to be little.” - Benjamin Disraeli, 19th Century British Prime Minister