In 1996 David and Dana Cordell had an idea: to bring the freshest fruits and vegetables to the Flathead Valley.
Their idea became the Apple Barrel Country Market, a downhome-style country store that is packed with fruits, vegetables and more. Now after seeing the Apple Barrel become a successful hit with local customers, the Cordells are turning their attention to another flavorful, fresh product: wine.
The Apple Barrel, on U.S. 2 near Glacier Park International Airport, has launched Glacier Sun Winery, a small-batch winery that produces several styles of wines, from cheerful summer whites to a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, and many in between. The wines are created from Washington state grapes, and each of the wines consist of three to four varietals of grapes.
For example, the Glacier Sun Riesling has a bubbly effervescence, almost like a sparkling wine, making it a perfect companion to summer dining or lighter fare. The Tempranillo is one of Glacier Sun’s most interesting wines. With a blend of red varietals, the Tempranillo brings an assertive flavor of pinot noir with the laidback feel of a merlot. It’s an easy-to-drink red wine with a bold flavor palette. Also complementing the Glacier Sun white-wine list are a Gewurtzraminer and a chardonnay.
One of the most popular wines is a Huckleberry/Rhubarb blend. While some flavored wines taste like a lollipop, this one from Glacier Sun Winery lets you search for the flavors in your mouth instead of overpowering you with a fruity explosion.
It’s a delicate balance, but the Huckleberry/Rhubarb wine comes across a winner not just as a dessert wine, but also as companion to a cocktail party. As for a sweet wine, Glacier Sun produces a Chocolate/Raspberry Port, while the Flathead Valley Cherry wine has been a huge hit with locals and visitors. The wines are available for sale at Glacier Sun Winery, where you can also sample them in their well-appointed tasting room.
The air at the Apple Barrell is filled with the scents and aromas of fresh fruit and vegetables. Having a wine-tasting room adjacent to this casual, pleasing area was the perfect complement. “It’s just a feel-good place to come and relax,” David Cordell said.
Doug Wagner is the head vintner, who brings a wealth of experience to Glacier Sun Winery. Wagner was formerly a vintner in Missoula, and was looking for a place to produce wines when he met the Cordells.
“We just thought a winery would be the perfect complement to the Apple Barrell,” David Cordell said.