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Wiederkehr Village WeinfestWe all love a wine festival … especially when it’s in our own backyard. Arkansas winery Wiederkehr Wine Cellars is preparing for its 48th annual Wiederkehr Village Weinfest on Oct. 8 near Altus.

In years past, as many as 3,500 people have attended the free festival, which features wine tastings, arts and crafts displays, carriage rides through the vineyards, a championship grape stomp, a buffet banquet, a conga line through the wine cellars, singalongs in German and English, entertainment, contests and door prizes.

The long-running festival correlates to the long history of the Wiederkehr family in Altus. In 1880, Johann Andreas Wiederkehr and his family emigrated from Switzerland. The family chose St. Mary’s Mountain near Altus as the location of their home because the area’s mountains, valleys and ridges were similar 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, serving an array of Swiss and European foods but 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 they are unique to the Boston and Ozark mountains. Cynthiana, Verdelet and Niagara are just a few in their portfolio of white, red, sparkling and sweet wines.

So, if you’re looking to taste the local wines of Arkansas and have a fun family day in the meantime, the festival is the place to be. There are no tickets or reservations needed, but the evening banquet is first come, first served, so it’s best to get there early. For more information, call (800) 622-9463 or visit WiederkehrWines.com.