Looking through the vineyards in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas Photo Credit: Matthew McCall
When most think of vineyards, Napa and Chianti may come to mind. The hype of such places produces countless visitors every year. However, even in the most unsuspecting of places such as the middle of America, the vineyards are beautiful in a more southern sense, far from the snobbery of most swirl your glass, sniff-sniff wineries around the world.
Buried in the southern slopes of the Ozark Mountains, the wine country of Arkansas modestly and unknowingly rests from most winos eyes. The oldest and largest winery in mid-America, Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, makes up just one of the many wineries in the Boston Mountains area.
Johann Andreas Wiederkehr and his family, emigrants from Switzerland, set up their winery in 1880. Wiederkehr selected the area near Altus, Arkansas due to the many different microclimates conducive to winemaking.
The quirkiness of such an idea produced a Swiss Alpine style winery in the uncanny location of Arkansas. Johann carved a wine cellar from the hillside of the Saint Mary’s Mountain, which was later converted into what is now the Weinkeller Restaurant, an added addition to the property. The cellar is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Third and fourth generations of the family still produce Wiederkehr’s wines. Wine-goers can tour the site for free, with guided tours given everyday 9-4:30, every 45 minutes. The tour leads visitors through the stereotypical low-light cellar with giant wood barrels for show and then onto the production warehouse of bottling and labeling.
The tour concludes with a free tasting of Wiederkehr’s wines set to the backdrop of a cherub covered 18th century bar imported from Italy. Some tour goers on this visit speculated it belonged to an Italian princess, but regardless, the tasting area is truly unique from the snobby feel to most wineries.
Only in Arkansas it seems can a little Swiss winery complete with wooden signs in German silently exist. A trip to Wiederkehr Wine Cellars does produce a homey stop for an afternoon of exploring the diverse Arkansas landscape, devoid of the snobbery and uptight nature of more acclaimed vineyards around the world.
Wiederkehr's Bar for Wine Tasting Photo Credit: Matthew McCall
For more information, visit the Wiederkehr Wine Cellars’ Website for directions.