Missouri wineries produce 7 percent of the country's wine on 1,700 acres of grapes. The state's $1.76 billion wine industry employs nearly 15,000 people, according to the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.
Missouri has it all: wine, whiskey and white oak.
University of Missouri Extension will toast Missouri’s unique contributions to the wine and whiskey industry during the first White Oak, Whiskey & Wine tour Saturday, Oct. 28.
MU Extension forester Hank Stelzer and MU Extension viticulturist Dean Volenberg lead the one-day tour through mid-Missouri.
The tour takes attendees to a white oak forest, a stave mill and two cooperages where wine and whiskey barrels are assembled. The event wraps up at a river bluff winery. “They will see it from start to finish,” says Stelzer.
Artisans craft white oak stave logs from Missouri into more than 1.5 million barrels each year. The barrels go to some of the most prestigious wineries and distilleries in America and Scotland, he says.
With rolling hills, picturesque views and small winery charm, Missouri wine country is a popular tourist destination, says Volenberg. Missouri’s 11 wine trails feature more than 130 wineries.
Missouri wineries produce 7 percent of the country’s wine on 1,700 acres of grapes. The state’s $1.76 billion wine industry employs nearly 15,000 people, according to the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.
The tour by coach bus highlights the town of Higbee in Randolph County. Attendees will see how stave logs are processed and made ready for the cooper. There are fewer than 50 master coopers in the United States; Higbee boasts two of them.
The Oak Cooperage, owned by Silver Oaks Cellars of Oakville, Calif., produces barrels for the company’s Napa Valley winery. Barrel 53 Cooperage produces barrels for distilleries across the region. Lunch is provided at The Oak Cooperage.
The tour concludes at the Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery at Rocheport. There, attendees will see the barreling of wine and learn how the white oak barrel imparts its unique traits to a wine’s character.
They also will also hear from distillers from Wood Hat Spirits, a Montgomery County craft distillery. The distillery’s artisans use unique heritage grains and fruits, including black walnut instead of the yellow corn used by most distilleries. Participants of legal age will have the opportunity to taste the fruits of both the vintner’s and distiller’s labor.
The tour begins 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Hilton Garden Inn next to the Bass Pro Shop in north Columbia, and will return to the hotel around 4:30 p.m. Cost is $50 per person and includes transportation, lunch in Higbee and tasting at Les Bourgeois.
A block of rooms has been reserved until Oct. 3 at the Hilton Garden Inn for interested tourgoers. Hotel reservations are the responsibility of the individual.
Seating is limited to 40 people. To register for the tour, contact Sharon Burnham, MU School of Natural Resources, at 573-882-7242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.