Arkansas is the largest and oldest wine-producing state in the South. While it has plenty of old growth vines producing wines for fourth and fifth generation-run wineries, there are some budding vineyards taking hold in the industry as well.
A new presence among the oldest of the Arkansas wineries is Neumeier Winery, which opened in 2011. Best known for its uniquely dry Muscadine wine, it is located atop Saint Mary’s Mountain in Wiederkehr Village. In addition wine being made here, custom pottery by a master artisan is formed and fired on-site.
Housed in the 1917 Taldo House, the Tontitown Winery also opened last year and is located in northwest Arkansas, which has its own grape history. The new winery brings back the Italian heritage of wine making in this region, and contains a history room featuring the traditions of the grape growing and winemaking Italians who founded the town. Tontitown is already famous for its more than a century old Grape Festival held each August.
Also in this corner of the state is Keels Creek Winery, located in Eureka Springs in a Spanish-style building shared with Keels Creek Art Gallery. The spaciousness allows an open feel for the art where viewers can relax in the wing-back chairs by two massive stone fireplaces. The retail wine area also has a popular wine tasting room. The winery’s nearby 10 acres of vineyards contain more than 10 varieties of grapes. Keels Creek’s intent is to stay a small boutique winery focused on local grapes harvested from its vineyard and three other local vineyards.
In the north central Ozarks, Raimondo Family Winery produces wines, oils and vinegars at Blue Lady Resort in Gamaliel. Just 12 miles from Mountain Home, this winery features a tasting room and scenic views of Norfork Lake. The story of Raimondo Winery begins many generations ago with a family that traces its roots to Palermo, Sicily. The Raimondo Family began its winemaking heritage in the United States three generations ago when patriarch Marty Raimondo moved to California. His niece, Margie Roelands, after purchasing Blue Lady Resort in the Arkansas’ Ozarks, realized her dream of turning the family winery into a commercially-operated business. Raimondo Winery became a small farm winery manufacturer in 2008, and produces wines from old world Italian varietals such as Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Viognier, and Roussanne.
All of The Natural State wineries offer tasting rooms. Some have free tours and special events.