Alternative Grapes Center Stage at 2015 Midwest Wine Conference
Wines made from more than twenty little known grape varieties will be unveiled and tasted at the upcoming Midwest Grape and Wine Conference in St. Charles, Missouri. Among those due to tickle the palates of conference participants, about five originally bred by the legendary 19th century viticulturalist, Thomas Volnay Munson.
‘The Munson varieties are one example among many of emerging, hidden alternatives which characterize the current postmodern era in American winegrowing, which is centered East of the Rockies,” said winemaker and author Clark Smith, who will present the conference session.
In the late 19th century, Munson helped rescue European vineyards from devastating phylloxera by developing and shipping disease resistant American rootstock to Europe. He also collected and bred more than 300 American varieties, many of them have fallen into obscurity — until now.
The conference tasting showcases a winemaking project by Vox Vineyards near Kansas City. The winery’s stated goal is ‘to discover, uncover, and express the specifics of the Midwest’s indigenous fruit,” drawing on the inspiration of Munson. Since 1996, Vox winemakers Jerry Eisterhold and Jessica Link have collected and planted about 65 American heritage varieties, including dozens of Munson breeds.
‘I’ve tasted them all,” said Smith. ‘For example, Lenoir – also known as Black Spanish – is a rich, dense, highly colored red, with soft, agreeable tannins and a nose full of plums.”
Smith also plans to show varieties indigenous to the Republic of Georgia, where winemaking began 8,000 years ago, some muscadines and cold hardy examples from another famed US viticulturalist, Elmer Swenson.
Clark Smith, together with a panel of wine professionals, will present a Postmodern Winegrowing Forum & Tasting at the 2015 Midwest Grape & Wine + Craftbrew Conference in St Charles, Missouri, on March 11 and 12. For more information, visit the conference website.