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Tasters evaluate wines made in new MU experimental winery


Robert E. Thomas
Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Phone: 573-882-2480

Published: Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Story source:

Keith Striegler, 573-882-6681

COLUMBIA, Mo. –Brian Phillips, Butler, Mo., plans to start his own vineyard, knowing that it will be three years before the vines produce their first grapes for sale to wineries.

Looking for the best grape varieties and cultivation methods, Phillips was one of about 30 wine enthusiasts attending a recent wine-evaluation workshop at the University of Missouri.

He tasted and evaluated 33 wines produced from unique grape varieties and cultural practices at MU’s new experimental winery.

“Programs like this let people in the door,” he said. “It will tell them either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if they want to start a vineyard or winery. This will help me in every facet of being a vineyard owner and winemaker.”

John Humphreys owns a vineyard in Fulton, Mo. “This workshop helps us as growers figure out what kind of wine the wineries are looking for,” he said. “They are trying to find cultivars that work well within the state.”

The workshop is the first of its kind for MU, which opened its experimental winery last year.

Participants sip and savor the wine samples—but do not swallow—while scoring each for traits such as bouquet, texture, flavor and overall quality.

Wines are tested for not only the variety of grapes used but also for ways in which the fruit is harvested and processed, said Keith Striegler, director of the MU Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology.

“MU has a large experiment with mechanization of grapevines,” Striegler said. “As viticulture researchers, we are trying to learn what practices we need to be doing for our industry to be competitive.”

There are now 92 wineries in Missouri generating jobs and economic activity, he said.

Data from the wine tasting will provide information for producers to use in selecting varieties adapted to the challenging conditions in Missouri, he said.

The Institute is part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Funding comes from the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, which directs funds from a statewide tax on wine sales for research, education and marketing.

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