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Garden City's New Wine District

Five urban wineries are now clustered around 44th Street

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Drivers barreling down Chinden Boulevard might have spotted a sign advertising another kind of barrel: the District 44 Wineries and Tasting Room. The sign went up last week, after Split Rail Winery and Syringa Winery relocated their tasting rooms from 3500 Chinden Blvd. to 4338 Chinden Blvd. The two wineries are now a stone's throw from the 44th Street Wineries complex, which houses Cinder Wines, Telaya Wine Co. and Coiled Wines.

Garden City, which is already the Treasure Valley's brewery belt, now has its own burgeoning wine district.

"Our whole vision was for it to be kind of like a wine district. ... Let's make it easy for people who want to go wine tasting to just park in one spot and they can all walk around and hit up five different wineries," said Split Rail's Jed Glavin.

Located inside an old auto body warehouse, Split Rail's tasting room has a funky, industrial vibe with a bright teal door and "a little bit of cowhide to give it that Idaho feel," Glavin said.

"The new space is just a big, huge industrial warehouse so our tasting room is in the same location that our production area is, so it's all open," he said. "You walk in and you see all the barrels so it feels more like an urban-style winery."

Glavin wanted to create a laid-back ambiance that encourages patrons to linger over a glass (or growler) of wine. At the end of March, Split Rail will introduce a few kegged wines--including an off-dry style Riesling, a cabernet and petit verdot blend, and a syrah and blue franc (aka blaufrankisch) blend--under the label Strange Folk. Growler fills will range from $10-$12.

"We really want people to just come hang out, have a glass of wine," said Glavin. "I built a big kegerator so we're going to put local beer on tap, which you never see in wineries--I've been to a million breweries in town and they always carry wine."

The 44th Street Wineries' warehouse has cultivated a similar hang-out vibe, with giant doors that roll up in the summer and a smattering of high-top tables. According to Cinder Winemaker Melanie Krause, having more wineries in the neighborhood will increase visibility for everyone.

"We're very excited to have Split Rail and Syringa moving in next door and we think that the clustering of wineries together in Garden City makes it possible for our customers to experience the great representation of Idaho wines within a short drive of most of the populous," she said.

Glavin hopes that collaborative events between the wineries will invigorate the area.

"Everybody organizes events in Boise, but all these guys are brewing beer and making wine and stuff in Garden City," said Glavin. "We just need more cool events that represent the culture that's going on down there."