Arkansas winery Wiederkehr Wine Cellars is preparing its 50th annual Weinfest, Oct. 12, at Wiederkehr Village near Altus. Locals won’t be the only ones attending the historic event. As many as 3,500 have joined in the fun in the past.
The long-running festival correlates to the long history of the Wiederkehr family in Altus. In 1880, Johann Andreas Wiederkerhr and his family emigrated from Switzerland. The family chose St. Mary’s Mountain near Altus as their home because of the area’s similarity – mountains (nestled in the Boston Mountains with the Ozarks to the north and the Ouachitas to the south) valleys and ridges – to the grape-growing climates in Europe’s wine regions. The first task was carving a large cellar into the hillside. This unique cellar is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to the Weinkeller Restaurant. The restaurant features an array of Swiss and European foods but is famous for its spaghetti and Back Hendel Vienna (a chicken dish).
The winery focuses on indigenous grape varieties quite rare in most of the United States. Many of the varieties are unfamiliar to wine drinkers simply because of the unique ability to grow these varieties in Arkansas. Cynthiana, Verdelet and Niagara are just a few making up their portfolio of white, red, sparkling and sweet wines.
If you’re looking to taste the local wines of Arkansas and have a fun family day too, the festival is the place to be. Don’t forget to stick around for the Championship Grape Stomp. There are no tickets or reservations needed because the evening banquet is first-come, first-served, and the entertainment and activities are free. For more information, visit Wiederkehrwines.com or call, (800) 622-9463.
- 2011 Wiederkehr Wine Cellars Niagara, Arkansas (about $6 retail)
- NV Wiederkehr Wine Cellars Port, Arkansas(about $50 retail)