Just north of I-84 in Hammett, Idaho is Cold Springs Winery. You can see the name and arrow in red on the potato storage sheds pointing it out on the hill. It was a goal of the day to try to get to this winery before it closed at five; we made it!
The tasting room is a pleasant, warm oasis in the bitter cold of January. A local artist has landscape photos hung for sale there – lovely scenes from Idaho and Oregon that made me long to have more walls to hang them at home. Light wood wall cabinets filled with green bottles sporting black and green labels with branches of science differentiating the grape varieties: ‘geology’ is a Pinot Noir, ‘phrenology’ is a Riesling, etc. Apparently their daughter majored in psychology and the wine makers daughter is a graphic designer. These two ladies spearheaded the labeling of the wines; nice work.
This is a working retirement, a labor of love for excellent wine. They planted their first vines in 1998, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes, bottling their first wines in 2003. As with great wine, vines can age gracefully, producing better fruit to ferment. The current vat of Chardonnay, 2011 harvest, was racked once, but not filtered. We stepped down into the frigid fermenting room where, the 2008 un-oaked Chardonnay still lingering on our pallets, we were treated to a very active, slightly yeasty hint of what is to come. The wine is early in its malolactic fermentation stage. It will be a lovely wine when ready to serve. Now they grow Rielsing, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. There are experiments with other grapes. One of my favorites, Tempranillo are grapes from the Basque Region of Spain, have been planted and replanted, in the hopes of a harvest worthy of the lovely wine. Alas, these grapes are still in the coaxing stage. We talked about another grape, the Austrian Gruner Veltliner (velt-LEEN-er), as there is a place in the vineyard requiring a hardy grape variety. I have had this wine a couple of time and enjoy it. It will be interesting to see if this develops.
The winemaker has Cabernet Franc grapes which he used for a non-vintage red blend of 70% Cab Franc, 20% Merlot, and 10% Syrah. Nice, lighter than I had originally expected, peppery wine. ‘Chronology’ is a red blend of 46.5% Merlot, 44.5% Syrah, and 9% Cab Sauv. A black cherry, spicy and sweet wine. With fruity, well developed whites and big, berry and peppery reds – the Syrah has a light, clean, butterscotch finish – this winery has staying power.
The Ringlerts are quite familiar with Washington, so knew where we came from and about Ellensburg. I mentioned getting my college degree in Geology at CWU to discover one of my favorite professors is a long time friend of this couple. Bill and Travis were both pilots and knew several of the same people in the farm machinery business here in Idaho. With each conversation the world got smaller.
For further information, you can visit them in Hammett or log onto their website: http://www.coldspringswinery.com/