Wine Corkers 

You wouldn't expect to find a winery in a strip mall on State Street, but that's exactly what you'll discover at 5634 W. State. Behind the doors of what looks like an unassuming store front you'll meet Tom Falash, proprietor of Wine Corkers, an officially bonded Idaho winery. And while you could also call him the head winemaker, it is actually his customers who make and bottle their own selections.

The establishment is a franchise of Canadian based Wine Expert Incorporated. Located in British Columbia, for the past 15 years this company has very successfully offered individuals the chance to craft their own wines at some 320 different locations. They are one of the largest purchasers of wine grapes from around the world and hold a 20% share of the Canadian market. Falash is hoping the concept catches on here in Boise.

So what will you find at Wine Corkers? First, all the equipment you need is provided. The wine kits include enough juice to make 28 bottles, along with the requisite yeast and chemicals. There's a wide array of grape varieties from which to choose. Italian choices include Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio. Pick Australian Shiraz, California Cabernet or Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel. You can make New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, French Chardonnay and even German Muller-Thurgau. And that's only a small example of what's available.

Putting it all together is a pretty simple process and Falash will help you through all the steps. It takes less than half an hour to combine all the components. Then they spend the next 7 to 8 weeks fermenting in a climate controlled facility. After that, it's ready to be bottled. In the meantime you can design your own custom label. In fact, if you want, you can make a different label for each bottle. The finished product could make a unique gift for your wine loving friends (just in time for Christmas), and in fact the majority of Wine Corkers business thus far has been for weddings, anniversaries birth announcements and business gifts. When you work out the cost, the $180 tariff comes out to less than $6.50 a bottle--a pretty reasonable price.

Of course that wouldn't be much of a bargain unless the wine were good. Entries from Wineexpert have garnered a number of awards at different competitions, but being a skeptic of medals, I tried the finished product for myself. Overall, I was most impressed with the reds. My favorite, the Luna Rossa showed lovely sweet fruit, anise and mocha on the nose with soft dark berry and mocha flavors in the mouth. A very pleasant quaff that I would happily serve to anyone.

But don't take my word for it. Wine Corker's motto is "Where Taste Buds Rule!" To prove the point they provide samples of a wide variety of their wines, so you can pick your own favorite. The also offer special events like cooking classes and catered wine tastings, as well as offering a nice collection of wine accessories. To top it off, Tom Falash is a great guy. But be warned--his enthusiasm is contagious. Give him a call 853-6223 to set up your own wine making experience. :

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