(LENEXA, Kan.) – Wine? In Kansas City? Or in Kansas and Missouri at all?? Yes, we hear it all the time, but believe it – it’s absolutely true! The next statement we usually hear (sometimes dripping with disdain) is – but can it be any good? The answer is YES – absolutely!
Our Kansas wineries offer different varietals of wines, of course – we grow different grapes here. Our soil and weather is different than say, California, Oregon, Spain or France. But, it’s still good – you just need to know where to go and what you are drinking. For instance – if you know you like a good Cabernet, you might be more than delighted with our own Midwestern grape, the Norton (AKA The Cabernet of the Ozarks). It offers a very similar dryness, look and feel, and when grown, cared for, picked and aged correctly, you might just find that you like it even more! Plus, the added benefit is – there’s no persnickety weather conditions to deal with that make one year more or less desirable than another – like in our coastal grape growing states. In Kansas, you know that every year it will be hot and humid in the summer, we will eventually have several season changes and it will be hot and humid again the next spring and summer. Mostly, we know it will be consistent. Well, all except for this year, of course. But, that determines a perfectly likely outcome for every crop of grapes grown here. So, you know what you are getting from year to year. The differences in weather conditions and temperature don’t make or break a particular year’s crop so much that you have to choose between a particular year’s vintage.
Regardless, outside of this blog providing some basic local wine education, we are writing to share more about exactly where to go to experience these wines for yourself! Then, you can be the judge and determine if you’ll be drinking locally or stick with your all-time favorites. Either is fine, but giving a local winery a try might just broaden your own perspective…you never know.
A brief bit of history – before prohibition, Kansas and Missouri were two of the largest grape growing and producing states in the Union. Well, they’re back! And so we now have a plethora of wineries here in Kansas and in the surrounding KC area. I won’t bother to mention all of them – although I’ve probably visited more than my fair share. I certainly haven’t been to them all. All I can suggest are the ones that I frequent with my family and friends.
As much as our grapes vary, so do our wineries. Each of them has its own flair and its own flavors. You’ll have to visit them and decide what you like best about them.
Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery
One of our all-time favorites, and one of the local wine heroes because of the help and education they give all local wineries just starting out, is Holy-Field Winery, located in Basehor, KS. Due just west of the racetrack and Legends, you will find Les and Michelle – a father/daughter team that is breaking open the world of wine for us here in Kansas. They just do it so nicely…
Their activities and charitable events throughout the year, their music and gourmet food truck offerings and, of course, their wines are what make them so special. And the help that they always provide to neighboring wineries who are looking to learn. Our favorites are the Chambourcin, Cynthiana and the Seyval and Corky’s Barrel.
BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard & Winery
Next stop – also out west – closer to Lawrence, in Eudora, is BlueJacket Crossing. They make good wines- not only because of their grapes, knowledge and methods, but also because they’ve learned from their neighbors at Holy-Field. Ask for Pep – he had a vision for this spot and convinced the whole family to come out here from California and join in the fun. And they did! They have a great selection of wines – all the usual suspects. Our favorites are the Wolf Red and the Vignoles. They also offer a nice dessert wine if you’re into that sort of thing. They’ve just built a new tasting room, so lots of room for growth there!
Davenport Orchards & Winery
In the same area, literally just across the highway, you’ll find Davenport Orchards and Winery. Another group that has worked with Les and Michelle. Known for their no-nonsense, all Kansas-grown grapes, they make a wide variety of wines. They also find new combinations of grape varietals and experiment, yielding excellent results. Davenport is also home to many fruit wines, for folks who are into that. The tasting room is small, but offers a wide variety of tastes which will accommodate almost any wine lover…or learner.
Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery
Heading to South Kansas City, in Paola, is Somerset Ridge Vineyards and Winery, who offers a nice selection of wines from sweet to dry. They have lots of great live music offerings, as well as gourmet food trucks. A nice outdoor seating area, some good ambiance and some solid Kansas wines make this a trip worth taking. We like the Traminette on a hot summer day and the Flyboy Red is worth a try. And, if they have it, pick up a bottle of their Citron – it’s amazing and unlike anything you’ve had before!
White Tail Run Winery
We found White Tail Run while at a wine and food event in DeSoto called Winesong. We tried their Vignoles and enjoyed it so much, we wanted to take a trip out to this place, located in Edgerton, KS. Their newer, larger tasting room has great ‘lodge presence’ and is a cozy place to enjoy their wines. We’d like to get to know these guys better too!!
Now to our friends on the Missouri side. Belvoir Winery in Liberty, inhabits the historic Odd Fellows home, which was a statewide home providing care and education for the orphaned children and elderly members of a fraternal organization. The grounds are most interesting and most of their website is dedicated to describing the history and architecture of the buildings and the organization that helped care for these folks. The wines are okay, but you should definitely go for the ambiance…they say the place is haunted! It’s mostly an event space now, but the wines do offer something interesting to try and they do feature local artists throughout the building. You should give it a shot if you get the chance!
Jowler Creek Vineyard & Winery
Finally, Jowler Creek Winery, located up in Platte City, near Weston, features a whole host of interesting wines and events at their winery. They have live music often and do lots of fun, interactive events (food and wine pairings, winemaker for a day, sangria second Saturdays). Their terraced outdoor area is lovely and comes with a fire pit for those chilly, wine-drinking nights. They also have a game of ladder ball or washers just waiting for you to play while you sip. They are the only truly green winery in Missouri, by using green technologies, like solar power and sheep to keep the grass cut and chickens to rid the vineyard of pests. Plus, it’s just fun to look out into the vineyards and see sheep wandering around. We like the Vignoles and the Chambourcin. They also feature locally made cigars from Weston, in case you like a little cigar smoke with your wine.
So, those are my picks for the best wineries in Kansas City, just a start to get you going. There are lots of ways to find new wineries. Just googling Kansas or Missouri wineries will do it. Enjoy and have a glass for me!
by Emily VanArsdale