LTH Home

Growing Missouri Wine II

Growing Missouri Wine II
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Growing Missouri Wine II

    Post #1 - March 7th, 2005, 9:35 pm
    Post #1 - March 7th, 2005, 9:35 pm Post #1 - March 7th, 2005, 9:35 pm
    Cathy2 suggested that I start a new topic, since I couldn't seem to crack the thread Aaron had started. Sooooo, here we go.

    I've read all the postings in the other thread and have some responses to several of them. Most likely not all my responses will be welcomed--I tend to be rather strongly voiced on matters my mind has made up for me. First, some back story.

    I've been growing winegrapes and making wine for 33 years, a sizeable chunk of that interval as a fully commercial estate winery. We failed bcz of spats among the partners and bad business practices, not bcz of either wine or the sales thereof.

    For a few years I was the wine critic of the _Kansas City Star_; and for nearly a decade I did a stimilar stint at the city's leading alternative arts & entertainment weekly. For about 10 yrs I taught a credit course--Wine and Civilization--at UMKC. The course focussed on history, biology, econ and arts aspects of humankind's interaction with wine and vine.

    Lately, I've been working on the history of the wine phylloxera crisis in Europe, 1870-1900 (when the American root louse ate all the European grapevine roots, killing the industry until the grafting method was developed and adopted). A couple of papers have been published, copies of which I can send to anyone who wants one. Just send me a request at

    OK, enough of that, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

    As a couple of you noted, it is difficult going east of the Rockies for the traditional European wine varieties. We can keep them alive now, and even make a decent wine from them. Can we make a world class wine from them? Of course not. Good grief! Today's Shiraz, for example, is the result of nearly 3000 yrs of selection pressure in a terroir and climate not the least like anything on the N. American continent. Yes, including California. California comes closest to being similar, but even it is still wrong. Too much sun. As Leon Adams, founding father of the California Wine Institute used to say "Easiest way to spoil a good wine grape is to grow it in California."

    So: Shiraz in MO? IL? TX? VA? etc? No. End of story.
    Good, but never great.

    Which brings up question #2: So, *can* world class wines be grown in states east of the Rockies?
    Yup. It's been done, and IS being done, on a regular basis. Cf.

    Doug Frost is America's foremost wine guy, better rounded than Parker--as Parker himself would admit--but less commercially powerful. Listen to what Doug has to say in that column. Then, next time you're down on the River Road at Grafton, stop by and buy some world class wine.

    Last weekend there was an ignorant, arrogant, racist and asinine column in the _Trib_ about IL wine, written by a guy who'd done some nice work in Iraq. As I said in a letter to the editor, "should have kept him in Iraq, where he knew something about what he was investigating."

    Final bit, an anecdote before I ship this off and start another blurb. In Jun '02, a friend sneaked a bottle of my '78 "Leon Millot Special Cuvee" into a blind tasting of old wines in Bordeaux. (This wine has done especially well over the years, and is completely repeatable--lord willin' and the rains don't come) As the leading wine guy in France said afterward: "There's not a wine taster in France who would have perceived that wine as anything other than a fine old Bourgogne."

    Which is exactly right.

    Now here's a wonderful irony. Everybody in this forum loves to find the incredibly rough herring shack in the woods that makes that extra special fried mess o' fish; or that rundown shack behind the filling station that provides the world's best brisket; or the diner down on the edge of the industrial district which, somehow, has figured out how to make the best hash browns in the universe.

    That's what all of us do for our Real Life, with food.

    But it was clear from some of the posts that several of you precisely and explicitly reverse your criteria when it comes to wine. No snobbery at the herring shack, but snobbery at the small mom 'n pop winery at the end of the dirt road.

    Folks, if that's the way you think, you're selling out your own principles.

    Think on that a bit, if you will.

    I'll be back with all sorts of stuff, and Aaron, I'll finally get to your question. Let me hint at you: either TX or MO can make fine wine; but then, where would you rather be? 'nuff said--soon I'll be accused of snobbery!!

    And oh, someone asked "why instead of $2.99 cabernet buy a $9.99 Norton".
    Same reason you'd pay to go to Arthur Bryant's than to Famous Dave's: better product.

    Later, y'awl.

    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)