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Wine in the Ozarks

In this month's program, Marideth Sisco visits a local vineyard for a look at winemaking in the Ozarks.

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. If I looked at the list of things the Ozarks is famous for, I’ll bet wine grapes is nowhere on it. But on a recent trip over into Oregon county I found out that Betty Mick may be on her way to change all that with five acres of the prettiest little vineyard I’ve seen outside the Napa Valley. So I asked for a closer look on a day with blue skies, white clouds and cool breezes. A beautiful day in the Ozarks, I thought I might take you with me. Here’s Betty:Betty: The little rock house, we want to make it into a tasting room. Then the big barn down there in the front is going to be our winery. We’re hoping to have our license next year so anything we make next year we can age and sell. Probably be at least two years.Marideth: This is just gorgeous.Betty: Let’s walk down here and we’ll show you the red ones.Marideth: OkBetty: I just did a vignoles over here that we made last week.Marideth: How soon can you tell what it’s doing?Betty: They say, basically, ignore the wine after it starts to ferment because all that settlement will settle down and that’s bitter. Then you can start sipping to see what it is doing. But a lot of times you can smell it. These are our chambourcin here.Marideth: Oh, my! Oh those are beautiful. Now what kind of wine will that make?Betty: A dark red. It has a slight cherry aftertaste.Marideth: Those vines are just loaded.Betty: My last section is a Norton, the Missouri wine grape. That is a native grape found here and the Virginias.Marideth: Really? You mean like a fox grape, like a wild grape?Betty: Yeah, and it makes an excellent wine.Marideth: I had no idea.Betty: It’s small. See here, here’s a seed.Marideth: Oh yeah, that’s delicious.Betty: This makes a very, very dark wine.Marideth: So, when can I come find out about that?Betty: Probably a year from now because I have some white now, the chardonel, that is two years old. Tastes pretty good. Before I can sell it to anybody or do anything else I have to at least like it a little bit. Well, we started out with black berries, raised those for about nine years. So, I thought, well let’s extend the market and I planted table grapes. After I found out how picky grapes were it should have been a warning, but we thought well let’s just plant some wine grapes for our retirement. These are now five years old. Then we started thinking, well, the wineries are so far away we might start our own winery. So, that’s how we got to this point.Marideth: You’re braver than me!Betty: When we first started we had to go buy wine to see what the difference was because we were not wine drinkers. Now this is a nice drinking wine, but I’m having to retrain it all. The freeze killed the top so I have to start all over again. I was hoping that I was done bending over. When I’m not picking black berries, I’m out here all the time.Marideth: Now those that you didn’t pick, are those too ripe?Betty: Well, these are just ugly. I don’t want to just be throwing everything in there. I’m going to be picky. Next year the grapes are going to be better.It was a fine day, and some fine wine. I tried the chardonel, and maybe in a year or two if all goes well, you can too. This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills.