Yes, wine, wineries and vineyards. Who knew Kansas is home to 15 wineries producing more than 50,000 gallons of wine?
One of the newest Sunflower State wineries, established in 2004 and producing its first bottlings this year, is Grace Hill Winery in Whitewater, Kansas (www.gracehillwinery.com). The winery is open by appointment for tastings this summer and will have regular hours starting in the fall.
Grace Hill is producing three whites, four reds and a rose. The winery is not without a sense of humor, naming one of its blends the Dodging Tornados Red: a Chambourcin with a little Cabernet. The winery’s blog, accessible through its web site, bares the soul of a farmer/vintner with heartbreaking reports about uncooperative weather and reaffirming notes about the progress of the wine.
Whispering Wind Winery also makes creative use of the state’s history and its climate. The winery’s products include Land Rush Red and Whispering Wind White.
Many of the wineries are located a short distance from Interstate 70, making a driving tour easy and a detour from a cross-country road trip almost mandatory.
The state’s largest winery is Smoky Hill Wines, which produces a variety of whites and reds, including its Burgundy-like Heartland Red, and a handful of specialty wines such as an ice wine, fruit wines and a special Christmas Wine made from the first grapes of harvest and recommended served chilled or hot mulled.
For details about all of the Kansas vineyards and wineries, and a map, go to www.kansasgrapesandwines.com.