The History

Why Do We Call Ourselves Cinder?

Named after the volcanic CINDER that is beneath many of the vineyards we work with, CINDER Wines has been hailed as one of the West’s Best urban wineries by Sunset Magazine.

In 2006 we decided that the Snake River Valley AVA would be where our adventure would take root. Here are some short stories from our winemaker Melanie Krause about her early adventures and the story that sparked Cinder.


Group of Cinder wine bottles

Gardens, Cooking and Downhill Skiing

Growing up in Boise, Idaho I spent most of my time in the garden, the kitchen or up on the ski hill. My parents, Gary and Liddy, have a huge garden that I worked on with my brothers, Rory and Kelsey. Then we’d take all those lovely ingredients and under the guidance of my mother cook and preserve most of our food. I fell in love with cooking using this huge variety of homegrown (and organic!) ingredients from our garden. The garden also included a collection of 40+ varieties of grapes! If I wasn’t in the garden or the kitchen then I was hurtling down the ski hills of the Northwest, as a member of the Bogus Basin Ski racing team. I still love to ski…although I’ve even gone over to the “dark side” and snowboard with my husband…but my parents still love me.

Talking to the Plants

I attended Washington State University and since I loved plants I started working in wheat genetics and breeding. Besides taking classes and talking to the plants in the greenhouse, I cycled for our school team, raced in triathlons and one day I met this rugby player named Joe, who I later married… I graduated from WSU in 2000 with bachelor degrees in Biology and Spanish.

Winemaker picking grapes
Cinder wine being poured at the table

Farmer’s Tan

After some travels in Asia, I returned to the Northwest and landed a job working for Stimson Lane in Washington as a vineyard technician in 2001. This translates into riding an ATV for 10 hours a day looking for bugs, checking on irrigation, and getting a tremendously sexy farmer’s tan. I enjoyed it immensely and learned a lot from the people I worked with who are incredibly knowledgeable in viticulture. This is important because great winemaking starts in the vineyard…


The Apprentice

During this time I started making “homemade” wine, which wasn’t very homemade since I made it with advice from Chateau Ste. Michelle and Northstar winemakers. I also began reading the books required for the UC Davis curriculum and thought winemaking would be a great fit for my interests. Eventually I got a job as an enologist at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate Winery. I was promoted to Assistant Winemaker in 2003. I helped make 400,000 cases of wine each year for Chateau Ste. Michelle. I studied under three great winemakers: Bob Bertheau, Ron Bunnell and Kendall Mix.

Winemaker picking grapes
Cinder wine being poured at the table

Taking the Plunge!

In 2006 I married Joe and moved back to Boise where he worked at Micron as a Chemist. I started a winery consulting business, Krause Consulting, LLC. This enabled me to visit the vineyards and taste through the cellars of most of the producers in Idaho. I made a small amount of Syrah and Viognier in 2006. Based on what I had seen of the vineyards and the wine I made in 2006, I decided to start my own brand, called Cinder, after the layers of volcanic remnants found under the vineyards in Idaho. It has meant a lot of hard work but when I taste the wines I know that it was the right decision.


“Welcome to the Garden”…

In 2008 we were searching for a home of our own to make wine when we came across an old fruit & vegetable packing warehouse in the industrial area of Garden City, just a few minutes from Boise. The building had a few cold rooms available for lease and instantly I knew the building had potential. We signed the lease and found a couple new wine labels to share space with us for the first couple years. It was a huge success and over the years we took over more and more of the building while our former cooperative wineries moved on to their own locations. We fell in love with the tiny and tough town of Garden City, “nestled by the river” and love the central location we have here in the Treasure Valley. Joe & I were ecstatic, we had a home for our wines five minutes from downtown Boise, a few blocks away from the Boise River and only ten minutes from our little home in East Boise. It was time to put down roots.

Winemaker picking grapes

Fast forward to February 2016. After 8 years of sharing our winery space with other wineries (Vale, Syringa, Coiled & Telaya) we are finally the owners of our own space! It has been great to see the other wineries that were our subtenants grow and strike out on their own and I know they’ll do well!

Come down to our newly remodeled tasting room, take a look at our space and please take a sip of the stories we’ve captured in the bottle!

-Melanie Krause, Winemaker

Group of Cinder wine bottles

World-Class Wines from the Snake River Valley

We source our grapes from several vineyards in the Snake River Valley, constantly searching out new microclimates, sites and passionate people who are investing in new vineyards for this beautiful region. After meeting with great success and seeing the relationships with our growers strengthen over the years, we strongly believe that even though we make incredible wines from this region right now “the best is yet to come”. We have a huge AVA, interesting volcanic soils, a great climate for Viognier, Tempranillo and Syrah (among others) and certainly much more to continue to learn from our wines, growers and the environment. It is a beautiful adventure!