Making wine in Kansas hasn't always been an easy thing, and due to the state's climate, it continues to present some distinct challenges. It's safe to say that the Kansas climate is challenging when it comes to making wine, but that hasn't stopped some of the Kansas wineries who chose to take on the challenge. When you decide to make wine in Kansas, you have to worry about summer storms more than anything, as they can bring damaging winds and hail, and the summer heat presents something to contend with itself. Tornadoes are quite common occurrences in Kansas as well, and these destructive forces can cause woes for everyone involved. As for the history of wine in Kansas, the state was a major player in the country's early wine trade, though the state-imposed prohibition in 1880 effectively put an end to that.
The fact that making wine in Kansas has been, and still is relatively difficult, the final product almost tastes better. You won't find an abundance of Kansas wineries, as the state waited until the 1980s to pass a farm winery law. This law saw the return of the Kansas wine industry, and while it's still a relatively fledgling industry, it is growing. The fertile fields here are producing some exciting varietals, and more and more Kansas wineries are seeing an increased amount of visitors. The Kansas wineries are also seeing more and more awards come their way, so you might pass on that trip to California's Napa Valley this year and opt to see what Kansas has to offer instead. While some of the Kansas wineries produce French-American hybrids and choose grapes that grow on native vines, other ones use other locally grown fruits and berries to create some unique products. You can sample a bunch of different kinds of wine when you visit one of the Kansas wineries, and chances are good that you'll return home with a few bottles at least.
One of the most renowned Kansas wineries is the Smoky Hills Vineyards and Winery, which can be found in Salina. This winery features some of the largest vineyards in Kansas, and they produce red wines, white wines, and specialty wines. As for the red wines, some of them are made from grapes that grow right on the winery's vines, while others employ the use of imported grapes. The Premium Claret is a red wine that is produced from some of the winery's own grapes, and it's a pleasant, medium-bodied wine that offers a spicy finish. While all of the red wines at the Smoky Hills Vineyards and Winery are worth sampling, you might start with the award-winning Simply Red, which is a Rhone-style wine that can be enjoyed slightly chilled or at room temperature. A variety of white wines complement the reds that are being produced here, and they include the award-winning Sweet Lady, which is sweet, floral, and more than able to stand on its own. Apples and blackberries are among the fruits that are used to craft some of the specialty wines at Smoky Hills, and you'll do well to pick up a bottle of the oft-award-winning Red Raspberry, among others.
Eudora Kansas, which can be found between the larger cities of Kansas City and Lawrence, is home to a couple of wineries that you might consider when looking to try some Kansas wine. The Blue Jacket Winery is one of them, and its now starting to reap the benefits of its vine-planting endeavors in the early 2000s. You can tour the vineyards at the Blue Jacket Winery, and you can also enjoy wine tastings in the Tasting Room, which opened in 2008. If you like sweet wines, you'll definitely want to visit the Davenport Orchards and Winery in Eudora, which uses apples, peaches, and other fruits to create some of its products. It also uses grapes as well, and dry wines can be sampled and purchases as well if you prefer dry to sweet. Like some of the other Kansas wineries, the Davenport Orchards and Winery offers special events throughout the year that you might add to your Kansas events calendar. Visit in August, for example, and you can partake in the picking of grapes at harvest time if time slots are available. Farm tours are also offered from time to time at the winery, so you might inquire about them as well.
No American Viticultural Areas have been designated in Kansas, but as the number of Kansas wineries and the wines that they produce continue to grow in number, that might change in the near future. Any wine enthusiast will enjoy a Kansas wine tour, and you are likely to be surprised at the quality of the wines being produced here. While visiting renowned wine-making destinations like the Napa Valley or enjoying a wine tour in France or Italy is always a good thing, it can get expensive. Kansas, on the other hand, is a relatively cheap place to travel, which makes a wine tasting trip here all the more ideal. Kansas boasts a rich history and plenty of great attractions, so when you're not visiting wineries, you can keep busy any number of ways.