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House of Wine, a retail wine shop and wine experience venue, has opened in downtown Boise. The store launched November 10th and will have its grand opening December 7th.
“Since I was eight years old, I’ve wanted to have a shop in some way, shape, or form,” says Kathryn House McClaskey, founder and owner of House of Wine. That dream is now a reality.
House of Wine is approximately 1,500-square feet, 1,000 of which is consumer-facing. On the retail side of the store, there are around 300 labels offered, with plans to scale up to 450. About 40% of the wines come from the west coast, including California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The rest are wines from around the world.
Uniquely, the wines at House of Wine are arranged progressively by style instead of by location or variety. White wines, for example, range from “Light & Bright” to “Medium & Smooth” to “Full & Rich.”
“The thought is that, people know what they like, but they don’t necessarily know different varieties or they don’t know different regions,” says McClaskey. “So the wines have been arranged by the way that wine is going to taste.”
McClaskey has been living in Boise with her family for the last 13 years. During that time, she has focused in part on offering educational classes as well as laboratory and consulting services under the House of Wine moniker. McClaskey also recently spent two years as director of education at Hayden Beverage in Boise. The retail store is her next step.
“At House of Wine, our mission statement is to empower connection through exceptional wine experiences,” McClaskey says. “That’s really what unites us – connection with our customers, with the wine community, and with wine itself.”
All of the wines at House of Wine are hand-selected and curated. In addition to bottle sales, wines will be offered in flights. People can also buy a glass or a full bottle and, for a $15 corkage fee, enjoy it at the store. The emphasis, however, will be on pouring four wine flights that explore styles, regions, and seasonal themes. These flights will change every two months.
House of Wine also has a dedicated classroom space that can accommodate 16 people. McClaskey has long offered ‘101’ to ‘401’-style classes in addition to Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) levels 1 and 2. There will also be short classes on the wine flights as well as specialty classes. There is a catering kitchen on-site for food and wine pairings and other events.
“I love wine enthusiasts, and I also love getting people excited about wine,” McClaskey says of the classes. “This allows an opportunity for us to not only continue the teaching but then to serve them and give them wines that they’re going to love.”
A native of Santa Rosa, California, McClaskey started her career studying veterinary medicine at Washington State University (WSU). However, when she was working as a server at a local restaurant, a group of professors convinced her she should study wine. McClaskey subsequently received a master’s degree in horticulture from WSU, with her degree predating the university’s technical wine program.
“From then on, I was really hooked,” McClaskey says.
McClaskey worked for four years at Betz Family Winery, one of Woodinville’s most highly regarded wineries. Most of that time was spent as assistant winemaker under Bob Betz. Betz is one of the few winemakers in the Northwest who have a Master of Wine (MW) degree from The Institute of Masters of Wine.
McClaskey herself has been intensively working her way through the MW program. She passed the theory section in 2019 and recently passed the notoriously rigorous tasting examination. She now needs to complete a research paper to receive her degree. After years of study, the House of Wine retail store will allow McClaskey to focus on a different aspect of the industry.
“I really want to get back to being close to people who enjoy wine but that aren’t necessarily professionals,” she says.
Treasure Valley, which includes Boise, Nampa, Meridian, and other areas, has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. With the influx of people has come an increasing interest in wine. Idaho itself is currently home to over 75 wineries, with many of them calling Treasure Valley home.
“The wine culture has really changed in the last 13 years we’ve been living here,” McClaskey says. “The quality of wines locally is better, and you’re finding more and more people that have interest in wine.”
NB: This article has been updated.
Image courtesy and copyright House of Wine.
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