discover THE kansas city WINE TRAIL of MISsouri
John believes small wineries should experiment more to illustrate the notes that local wine grapes embody.
This is exciting! It’s our first official Kansas City Wine Trail tasting excursion, so we chose five tasting rooms in Missouri along the Kansas City Wine Trail: Baltimore Bend, Terre Beau, La Bella, Fahrmeier Family Vineyards & Arcadian Moon. Although it may sound confusing that “The Kansas City Wine Trail” is located in the state of Missouri, anyone from Kansas City can tell you that more of Kansas City is actually located in Missouri – than in Kansas!
The Official Site of Missouri Wines (missouriwine.org) divides Missouri Wine Trails into ten (10) distinct different wine trails. Today, we are exploring wine tasting trail #3 “The Kansas City Wine Trail.” Welcome to Lafayette County, Missouri. (Click here to Pick Your Missouri Wine Trail).
#1) Baltimore Bend Vineyard – Tasting the Norton wine grape
Baltimore Bend Vineyard looks like it stays pretty busy. Located near the city of Waverly on Highway 24 (like an outpost on the prairie) it’s a quaint spot among the endless green Missouri farmland dotted with houses and small bodies of water. Inside the tasting room, they offer $5 tastings which include eight (8) wine samples (or you can choose your own at $1/sample). Baltimore Bend produces many different bottles of wine since they grow and harvest several different grape varietals. They also sell beer, so if you’re not a wine drinker – you’re covered here, too. No need sitting on the sidelines while the rest of the group is having fun!
Pam was our knowledgeable and friendly wine hostess – eager to tell us more about the tenacity of the Norton wine grape (the official grape of the state of Missouri). During an educational discussion about complex earth tones, Jay decided he liked their Norton Reserve and C-Squared the most. We were also reminded of how Missouri has a long, deep and rich history of winemaking. It’s fascinating how the history of the winery, the story of the grape and the parts of the palate all play an integral role in the symphony of the taste of the wine produced (and let’s not forget climate and soil)! Great atmosphere and an awesome staff, we decided to take home a bottle of Kris Kringle for the holidays as a gift to ourselves. It was the vineyard owner who painted the design of the bottle label (they occasionally host a painting session at the vineyard) and they also have live music. We do recommend a visit to Baltimore Bend.
Kansas City Wine Trail wine tasting offers the kind of fun, sunny afternoon in Missouri you’re looking for.
#2) Terre Beau Winery – Enjoy The Styling of John Tulipana
Look for the pretty old red brick Catholic church on Highway 24. Park on the gravel, walk in through the back to the tasting area, and that’s where you’ll find a bar stool where you can sit and take a load off. Behind the counter is your host, John J. Tulipana Jr., and behind him are the rows of corn through the windows. Traversing the street, few cars are seen; the bright sunshine of the day awakening a familiar sensation like you’ve returned to the 1950’s. I love that feeling! Like I’m back in the past with the photos on the wall in black and white.
“There are no BUCKETS in my house!” OK, it was me that said that (and not John). And I said it because I almost never discard wine when I’m wine tasting (unless it’s REALLY bad). That’s why Terre Beau’s Lafayette Red featuring Norton and Chambourcin will never be discarded in my house! Lafayette Red is the kind of wine that equally focuses on a smooth mix of varietals while drawing attention to the unique qualities of each grape in the blend. When that magic happens, you know you’re tasting a wine that’s been carefully hand-crafted. As I continued to savor, John talked about how his grandfather had first taught him winemaking in North East Kansas City before he moved out to the farmlands of Dover.
As the owner, John strongly believes that small wineries should experiment more to discover the unique blend tastes that local grapes can truly offer. He also looks for those special food and wine pairings like drinking a local Chardonel with Chinese food. He even let me taste his limited edition White Port. The posted rate is $5 for six (6) tastings but he gave us way more than that. He also gave us a tour of the church where they host special events while he talked of it’s history (for more, read about Marquis de Lafayette). I bought a bottle of Lafayette Red and Kimberly got me a bottle of the White Port. Hands down; for a wonderful Kansas City Wine Trail tasting and a trip down memory lane, be sure to visit John at Terre Beau Winery and Vineyard.
The key to wine tasting is: #1) have a great time, #2) learn more about wine, and #3) forget about how much wine you’re tasting.
#3) La Bella Vineyards – Party Time with a Wine Slushie!
Getting to La Bella from Terre Beau on the Kansas City Wine Trail is easy. Simply drive about 20 miles west on Highway 24, then a few miles south on Flournoy School Road (much of which is gravel) and that’s where you’ll find La Bella Vineyards & Winery. An open property with a nice little pond out back to hang out for #SundaySips – surrounded by rows of grapevines. Just open the big wooden front door and stroll into their comfortable tasting room with a boutique atmosphere – ready to accommodate your medium-size wine tasting party. Bring your closest friends!
Upon entering, we were pleasantly greeted by La Bella’s wine tasting hostess, Gladis. She was bubbly, fun, helpful and knowledgeable – and gave us the healthiest of pours. Again, the tastings are six (6) for $5, but we so quickly got to talking and drinking that I’m not really sure how many wines we tasted. Bella Shepherd white was our favorite for sure (and it’s also the base for their yummy wine slushie). Jay liked the Vignoles and we both agreed the 2011 Cynthiana was clearly their most enjoyable red – with a dry finish yet fruity on the nose. (Row Crop Red and Summer Gold weren’t even on their wine tasting list – and we tasted those, too!)
ATTENTION: EVERYONE. The Kansas City Wine Trail offers the kind of fun you’re looking for on a sunny afternoon in Missouri. And for us, the key to great wine tasting is #1) have a really great time, #2) learn more about wine, and #3) forget about how many wines are being tasted. It’s a fact that the Kansas City Wine Trail has an active and popular wine scene – and Missouri wineries such as La Bella Vineyards continue experimenting with new tastes and blends of local wine grape varietals. After ten or more tastings, we finished by ordering two wine slushies plus a bottle of Santa’s Little Helper (another “stocking suffer” for our inevitable and cold holiday winter season). That’s when we scoped out a table in the corner to enjoy our cheese and cracker plate picnic. Yes, this is what I call Kansas City Wine Trail tasting heaven.
#4) Fahrmeier Family Vineyards – Most Unique Tasting Room!
Upon exiting La Bella, we headed back out to the main road, Highway 24. Not even after a mile of returning to the pavement, we made a quick right turn to head east on Howe Road, then a right turn on Mitchell Trail to arrive at Fahrmeier Family Vineyards. Such a cool and unique wine tasting room! Converted from a working farm building that was actually a cattle room in a cow barn – now turned into a fantastic wine tasting space. They offer a full tasting of over ten (10) wines for just $6, so we tried them all. Our wine host, Patrick, poured interesting home blends such Abstract Pink and Blackberry. We enjoyed the coolness of the room and the view of the corn fields and wine rows – while admiring the casual outdoor rustic seating area. But to beat our 5pm deadline, we were off to our final destination…
#5) Arcadian Moon – Incredible Outdoor Sipping Environment
We back-tracked south down MO-131 to I-70. From there, we drove further east away from Kansas City towards Higginsville. (NOTE: be sure to enter Arcadian Moon from the north side because we tried to GPS the street address and ended up on the residential side of the property). You’ll know when you’ve arrived because of the big entrance sign and the cool scenic drive with ponds on either side surrounded by acres of green grass. When we got there, cars were parked everywhere like it was some secret hideaway for extended family members of people that own lavish vacation resorts and only live the good life. Excitedly, we parked and entered the bustling tasting room.
Like La Bella, Ardacian Moon has a very modern tasting area – but with a lot more counter space on nearly all sides of the serving stations with multiple beer and wine hosts in the center to accommodate the growing crowd. There were also plenty of people hanging out on the multi-level wooden deck area facing a blue pond out through the back glass doors. Clusters of party groups were seated in chairs at tables in the grass just soaking up the hot sun while the band warmed up. This joint certainly appears to know how to throw an awesome outdoor beer and wine tasting event!
We started with a $5 beer flight with five shot glasses, containing home-made: Nickel Draw Irish Ale, Dupart’s Best Baltic-Style Porter, Binder Day Oatmeal Stout, Exposition Hard Ginger Ale, and Grand Circuit IPA. We started with the light and moved on to the dark. As we sipped, we looked at each other. We sipped again. We kept waiting for one of these beers to knock our socks off. We looked at all the people; then at each other again.
Next, we ordered wine tasting flights. For $6, they give a full tasting of nine (9) wines; and for $10, you can keep the glass. We started with the whites: Portia, Astraea, and Bellatrix. Were we all tasted out? Just like the beer, just like Fahrmeier, we didn’t get it. We went through the other six, finished, paid, and left. If we could turn back time, we would have ordered a full glass at Terre Beau and then another at La Bella.
There’s no doubt: we’re definitely not finished with the Kansas City Wine Trail of Missouri. For us, the other must visit wine tasting rooms include: Stonehaus Farms Winery and Amigoni Urban Winery. With a fresh start and a clean palate, that’s why we always say, “One day just isn’t enough.” Until next time, we hope you enjoy your wine, thanks for reading and we hope this helps you get the most out of exploring local wineries and vineyards.