Monday, March 14, 2011

Wine Country

The In-Laws are in for the week, their spring break, so I decided to show them a side of Arkansas most people don't know exists: Arkansas Wine Country! We went to the one and only Altus, Arkansas. If you haven't ever been to Altus I highly recommend it. If you enjoy free wine tasting and seeing a little bit of Arkansas history this is the place for you. We visited three of the wineries: Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Post Familie Vineyards, and Mount Bethel Winery. All three vineyards are family owned by the original Swiss and German families who immigrated to America in the 1880s. You can go to free wine tastings and tours. Each one has its own "highlight." Here are mine for each:
Wiederkehr: the restaurant is located in the original hand-dug wine cellar and you get to see the two original casks the founder brought from Switzerland.
Post: a great variety for tasting (Wiederkehr's has 5 pre-chosen samples), you get to pick what you want, and they offer samples of their grape juices (i.e. something fun for those not able to participate in the wine tasting)
Mount Bethel: the tasting is done in the original 1880s root cellar that was converted in the 1950s, and we got to chat with Peggy Post, one of the many offspring of the Mrs. Jacob Post. Peggy told us all about the family, some fun memories she had of the many grape festivals, and her rather large family of more than 90 first cousins! Very fun experience.

Probably the best thing about the local wineries is Muscadine Wine. Muscadines are a grape almost exclusively grown in the south. Their skins are much tougher than normal grapes and have a unique, woody flavor. As kid I used to find these growing wild on our property and they always remind me of home.

If you are ever in Arkansas, stop by Atlus and try a little muscadine wine!

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