The beautiful weather has really made me want to get outside and explore. When I head out on day trips in the Heritage Area I try and pair my visits to historic sites and nature parks with some local wine tastings. Kansas and Missouri both offer up scenic wine trails that pair delicious local wine with unique experiences and support local agri-tourism. Make sure to try a local favorite, Norton grape wine, it’s the state grape of Missouri!
One of my favorite wine trials is the Somerset Wine Trail located in Miami County, Kansas. The trail includes four wineries hidden among the beautiful farmland of Louisburg and Paola. Designate a driver for your day, or look into Miami County Trolley to get you safely from place to place. Make sure to grab a map of the trail at your first destination.
I’d recommend beginning at Somerset Ridge Winery, their wines include a wide range from dry to dessert wines. I recommend trying the Citron wine, my personal favorite. It’s made in the tradition of a Limoncello. It’s perfect mixed with seltzer or over ice on a nice warm day. They even use it to make a fresh brioche! Have a glass of wine on their patio and explore their gift shop before you head out. Don’t worry, if you’re a fan of any of their wines, you can pick up a bottle at many local liquor stores, and they offer tastings at the Tasteful Olive in downtown Overland Park during their Third Fridays events.
NightHawk Vineyard and Winery creates their wine and serves it “among the tranquility of a century-old walnut grove in a rustic and charming environment.” Their shaded patio offers a great location for your second stop, maybe even for a picnic!
Middle Creek Winery houses their tasting room out of an old horse barn! They offer several wines to taste, including one of my favorites, the Traminette. Stephen and Kristin Graue, owners of Middle Creek winery, can often times be seen pouring the samples themselves. The Graue’s new endeavor, the New Lancaster General Store, just opened in November and provides visitors an outlet to purchase Middle Creek wines and local, handcrafted goods including arts, crafts, gifts, and food. New Lancaster and the Graue’s are also partners of Freedom’s Frontier! Just for our Heritage Traveler Insiders, Middle Creek Winery and the New Lancaster General Store are offering 10% off a wine purchase for the months of May and June! Just mention you are a Heritage Traveler Insider!
If you head out to explore the Somerset Wine Trail, check their Facebook for detailed information about special events, etc. Saturday May 9th and Sunday May 10th is the Spring Farm Tour, a self-guided tour of Kansas farms including Prothe’s Pecans, Boston Berry Farm, Louisburg Cider Mill, and many others right within the Somerset Wine Trail.
For those exploring Missouri, there are several different wine trails on that side of the state line, too. A great place to start would be Missouri Wine where you can plan your trip based on your location, pair your wine experience with a restaurant and use the Missouri Wines Wine and Food Pairings Guide to make sure you pair your food with the right wine complement! Visit MO offers a great travel planner so you can find a winery no matter where you explore! Or, if you’d like to keep your travels closer to Kansas City, there is the Kansas City Wine Trail. Old Trails Region also administers a travel planner that includes wineries along the way. They even have a developed itinerary (Wine Country….Fine Country ) that takes you through four wineries and an orchard and provides detailed driving directions.
Let’s take a look at wineries near Lexington, MO, since the Heritage Traveler Insider is featuring the exciting town this issue. A great place to start right in Lexington is the Fahrmeier’s Winery. Their tasting room sits in a converted cattle barn and also offers a fun garden patio and live music (weather permitting, check their website for all their events). Located in Wellington, MO, La Bella Vineyards & Winery is another great destination near Lexington. Check their calendar for details, but certain weekends they also offer wood-fired brick oven pizza, a great complement to their Bella Rosa, a dry red wine. Enjoy your treats on a patio overlooking a lake.
Head towards Higginsville and you’ll find Arcadian Moon Vineyards & Winery.They also serve wood fired pizza on the weekends (in case you didn’t get enough at your last stop!) They are also hosting a Wine Pairing Dinner on May 22nd; a four course menu tailored to complement their wines.
What I find best about local wineries in the region is the experience, you’re getting a chance to talk to the farmers who grow the grapes and learn about the wine making process, you’re getting to help support local businesses and take some time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. Most all mentioned wineries allow you to purchase wine to take with you. A local bottle of Kansas or Missouri wine make great gifts, especially for out-of-towners. These are just a few of the hidden wineries of Kansas and Missouri. Follow a wine trail this spring and see what you discover along the way! Just remember, designate a driver to get your safely to your destination. Cheers!
– Elizabeth Hobson
Freedom’s Frontier Education & Interpretation Manager