Wine Wednesday: Cowie International Amateur Wine Competition

My blog each Wednesday discusses the wine offerings of Arkansas from individual vineyards, wines, festivals, wine-infused events and more.

Jill M. Rohrbach
The 26th Cowie International Amateur Wine Competition, the only wine competition in the United States that offers real gold and silver to the winners, is set for April 23-24 at Cowie Wine Cellars near Paris. It is always the last Saturday in April. The awards event is Saturday the 24th, with a free pot luck the night before. Amateur winemaker enter one bottle of wine. The judging is chaired by Dr. Justin Morris, distinguished professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

This competition is held to promote the making of wine at home for enjoyment by the family, and to let amateurs learn and share information about the art of wine making. During the two-day event there will be a seminar, tasting of the prize-winning wines, and food. Another feature of this day is the display of the largest selection of home wine making supplies in Arkansas.

General admission to the event is $15 and includes a glass you may keep. The pot luck dinner on Friday the 23rd at 5:30 p.m. is free for all wine makers and people interested in learning how to make wine. All you need to do is show up with a dish of food and a bottle of wine, if you are a wine maker. Bring your own folding chair. Only homemade wines are allowed on the property this evening. No other alcoholic beverages may be brought in.
The seminar begins at noon on Saturday. It’s followed by a group discussion, awards and tasting of wines. There is a bonfire that evening for those that wish to stick around.

Cowie is located three miles west of Paris on Ark. 22 in Carbon City. Call Robert Cowie at 479-963-3990 or visit for additional information.

Cowie Wine Cellars, a small family winery, became bonded in 1967. It vints an assortment of wines from locally grown grapes: full-bodied classic wines, dry dinner wines, sweeter sipping wines, authentic fruit wines. Cowie won its first award in the Eastern Wine Competition in New York in 1982 with its Cynthiana Wine. The Cynthiana was awarded a silver medal out of over 700 wine entries and only six gold medals and 51 silver medals awarded. Cowie has also won awards and medals in Arkansas, Indiana and Tennessee. In 1996, Cowie’s Blueberry Wine was selected to be offered to the official wine taster for Queen Elizabeth II. Its Port Wine, a gold medal winner, has also received many accolades.

At the winery, visitors can tour the wine cellars, where wine is fermented and aged, observe winemaking operations and enjoy a wine tasting. Unique to this winery is a new Bell Tower and the Gallery of Barrels, a collection of barrels adorned with oil painting scenes of wine and wine history by artist Bette Kay Cowie.
The winery is also home to the Arkansas Historic Wine Museum, the only winery in the nation devoted to preserving the wine history of a complete state. The museum includes commercial and home winemaking equipment and information of the growth of the winemaking process since it first began in this viticultural region by early settlers.
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