When you think of a vacation in wine country, chances are your mind calls up visions of warm California sun and gently rolling hills. You probably don’t think of Arkansas, but with a history stretching back over 100 years, the vineyards of the Natural State are one of the hidden treasures of middle America.
Nestled in the valley between the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas wine country is home to a wide variety of vineyards offering the wine lover a glimpse into the wine making process and the chance to sample award winning wines, including vintages made from strawberries, blueberries and muscadine.
Located in the small town of Altus, Chateau Aux Arc has a 40 acre vineyard, including ten acres featuring chardonnay grapes and 5 acres of Cynthiana grapes. The tasting room is open Monday through Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm and Sunday’s 12:00pm-5:00pm and not only features wine, but pieces from local artisans Kathy Henry and Al Treadway.
Post Familie Vineyard is the grand dame of Arkansas wineries. Founded in 1880, the Posts have cultivated their grapes for five generations. They feature a wide variety of wines from Merlot to Muscadine Blush in every price range. Retail hours are Monday through Saturday 9:30am-6:00pm and Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm. Tours are available by request 11:00am-3:00pm.
Also founded in 1880, Wiederkehr Winery’s first wine cellar was carved into the mountainside and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The wine cellar now houses the Weinkeller Restaurant,featuring European cuisine and a selection of Wiederkehr Wines. The winery offers free tours daily from 9:00am to 4:30pm.
A more recent addition to the Arkansas wine industry, Cowie Wine Cellars was bonded in 1967. Despite being a relative newcomer, Cowie has become the most recognized wine maker in Arkansas. Robert’s Port Wine is a Gold Medal winner in New York’s Eastern Wine Competition. The winery also features its own bed and breakfast for a true wine tasting vacation. For amateur wine makers, the Cowie International Amateur Wine Competition is the last Saturday in April. The Arkansas Historic Wine Museum is also on the grounds of the Cowie winery and is a must-see on your Arkansas wine vacation.
Just two hours from Little Rock, Arkansas wine country is easily accessible and convenient to restaurants, hotels and other attractions. For more information on planning your trip, contact the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism at 1-800-NATURAL.