New Wine from a Lost Vine in Missouri Westphalia Vineyards releases a wine made from "Missouri Riesling"
by Linda Jones McKee, June 20, 2013
Westphalia, Mo.—In May, Terry Neuner, owner and winemaker at Westphalia Vineyards, introduced a new wine called Renaissance. This wine was a special release not only because of the limited quantity (40 cases) but because it is made of estate-grown Missouri Riesling, which represents the “rebirth” of a grape cultivar thought possibly to be extinct. Missouri Riesling is not the vinifera variety Riesling but a native hybrid grape of riparia and labrusca heritage, which disappeared from production after Prohibition began.
Missouri is an unlikely place to grow grapes. The winters are cold with bitter winds coming across the plains; the summers are very hot and humid. In between, spring and fall frosts are often a problem. In spite of the climate, the state has been growing grapes and making wine successfully since before the Civil War. In fact, in the late 19th century Stone Hill Winery in Hermann was the second-largest winery in the entire country.
Natives and hybrids
For much of its wine history the industry in Missouri has been based on native and native hybrid grape varieties. While vinifera and both French and American hybrid grapes are now grown in parts of Missouri, the flagship red wine for the state today is Norton, a cross of aestivalis and labrusca grapes that was introduced in Virginia by Dr. D.L. Norton as “Virginia Seedling.” Another popular white wine grape in the years before Prohibition was a variety known as “Missouri Riesling,” a riparia-labrusca cross introduced by Nicholas Grein in Hermann. However, with the advent of Prohibition, the only grape variety to remain in production to any extent was Concord, which was used as a juice grape.
Neuner set out to find a source for Missouri Riesling, even though the vines were thought to be extinct, and in 2005 he located one vine at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. “The only reason we found it is because of Thomas Jefferson. He named Cornell University the first land-grant college, and he gave it one mission: preserve every American grape species.”
Beginning with five cuttings from the vine at Cornell, Neuner has now propagated 500 Missouri Riesling vines at his 8-acre vineyard along the Maries River outside Westphalia, Mo. According to Neuner, the Missouri Riesling vines are similar to Norton in that they appear to be quite disease resistant. “The interesting thing about Missouri Riesling grapes is that they have big, open clusters and therefore no issues with diseases. They ripen about the same time as red grapes, and last harvest we actually picked the Missouri Riesling after the Norton.”
Convincing the TTB The grapes for Renaissance were picked in 2012 from 400 producing vines, fermented in stainless steel, and the 40 cases of wine were bottled in January. One problem Neuner had not anticipated arose when he sent in his label for approval by TTB. “Missouri Riesling” was not a recognized grape variety, and he had to convince the authorities that he was not making a Riesling in Missouri, but using a cultivar whose name happened to include a state name and another wine varietal name.
Neuner reports that the Westphalia Renaissance is “dry, but aromatic and fruity. While it’s a new experience, acceptance has been very good by our customers.” The wine can be purchased (but is not always available for tasting) at the Norton Room, the winery’s tasting room on the top floor of the Westphalia Inn at 106 E. Main St., Westphalia, Mo.
Travels and libations along the Missouri River wine trail
By HILLARY SHIPMAN, Tuesday, June 4, 2013
My excursions on Day Two lived up to the high standards set by the first four wineries. I started this time at the Norton Room to see what Westphalia Vineyards had to offer. Owner and winemaker Terry Neuner poured a sweet Riesling to complement a crab dip with assorted crackers. Riesling is another favorite of mine, though I tend toward the dry or semi-dry versions, which Neuner gladly served next. I also tasted the Anne Rosé, a blend of Riesling and Cabernet Franc delicious enough to prompt me to take a bottle home.
After trying seemingly all of Westphalia's eight varietals, a short drive brought me to Canterbury Hill, formerly Summit Lake. A semi-sweet white, King's Choice, was paired with a crab seafood salad on crackers. While the building and décor were quite beautiful, the wine was far too sweet for my taste, and the seafood salad left a lot to be desired. Although I can't say I was impressed, I intend to give the newest addition to the Missouri River Wine Trail another shot. The Celebrate Spring tour was, after all, its first time participating, and it is my hope that they will take note from the other wineries at future events and offer tastings of multiple varietals to appeal to different palates.
The tour ended on a high note with a stop at Serenity Valley. Ensenada shrimp cocktail accompanied a choice of Spring Blossoms (green apple Riesling), Village Secret (Gewürztraminer) or Shimmering Falls (Sauvignon Blanc). The Ensenada shrimp, with tomatoes, peppers and onions, had a bit of a Southwestern kick that was easily calmed by any of the whites offered.
My tour being over, I hung around to try out a few other boutique wines, as well, which proprietor Regina Ruppert describes as "different and unusual," some of which you're "not going to find anywhere else." My favorites included A Touch of Black 'N' Gold, a black currant Merlot, and Fiery Opal, a cranberry Shiraz.
The boutique wines of Serenity Valley and the widely appealing selection at Westphalia Vineyards managed to stand above the rest after a weekend filled with every type of wine imaginable. The fruity flavors of the boutique wines made for truly unique tastes that would appeal to both novice and experienced wine drinkers, while Westphalia's sulfite-, chemical- and preservative-free wine list didn't have a bad grape in the bunch. The food pairings at these locations were also some of the most appetizing, along with the inspired culinary creation by Smith at Les Bourgeois.
Wilson Shen & Terry appreciating Westphalia Vineyards wine
Terry and Mary Neuner lived in Singapore for more than six years, and Terry worked with 3M Taiwan for more than twenty years developing business opportunities in Taiwan, China, and Japan. During this time the Neuner’s developed a deep appreciation and understanding of Taiwanese culture and tastes. Terry and Wilson are convinced that Westphalia Vineyards sulfite-free wines Norton Reserve and Cabernet Franc will be a marketing success in Taiwan. Westphalia Vineyards has a unique sulfite-free production process, and also ferment and age WV wines in Missouri-made white oak barrels. The winery is located in Westphalia, Missouri, USA. The fact that Westphalia Vineyards wines have no added preservatives make our wines fresh, vigorous and approachable which will appeal to the Taiwanese palate.
A noble wine is reborn in Missouri at Westphalia Vineyards read more >>
Wine Enthusiast Magazine listed Westphalia Vineyards as "must visit vineyard" read more >>
DRINK: Some prefer Chocolate Rain, but for others, chocolate wine is the double-shot of awesome that rocks the house. Naughty But Nice Chocolate Wine from local vintner Westphalia Vineyards has been earning rave reviews, and while it may not be for all palates, this dark red Norton with chocolate extract is sure to be a conversation starter at any holiday party. Love chocolate? Love wine? It's certainly worth a shot - we mean glass. Available at Friar Tuck's, friartuckonline.com; Lukas Liquor Superstore, lukasliquorstl.com; Local Harvest Grocery, localharvestgrocery.com; and The Wine Merchant, winemerchantltd.com. Read the full story here >>
August 30, 2011
Dear Mary and Terry,
Below is a review of your fine wines and establishment I posted to the website Catchwine.com. I hope the review let's you and everyone else who reads it know how much we enjoyed our time with you on August 13th this year. We will be back. If you care to use any of this on your testimonials page, feel free to do so.
"This tasting room is located in the very charming village of Westphalia. And the tasting room itself is in a wonderful old hotel with the restaurant, party rooms and gift shop on the main level. Upstairs is the large tasting room and a sports room to boot. Wrapped around half of one side and all of the back of the building is a multi-level deck with additional seating. It is a very interesting building right from curb appeal and all the way through. There is a very cozy bar / restaurant next door, too. Next door be sure to try a Stag Beer. Mary Neuner, co-owner and wife of Terry, who apparently focuses on the restaurant portion of the enterprise, welcomed us on arrival and immediately made us feel right at home. Terry, co-owner, husband of Mary and winemaker, was very knowledgeable and a warm, friendly host.
We really liked their dry reds. I liked the 2006 Norton Reserve that was offered in the tasting room best. It was smooth, had a distinctive Norton nose and yet had also a hint of Brandy-like undertones present. Coming in at a very close second for me was the Cabernet Franc. It was smooth with a bit of spice from the first sip and had a very nice warm, flush, comfort inducing feel to it. Coming in at #3 was Westphalia’s blend of Norton and Cabernet Franc which Terry has named Prodigal Son. It was very nice again and really has its own signature that is similar yet different from the two wines that make this blend. My wife liked Prodigal Son the best. She was very smitten by it. She couldn’t stop raving about it. Next for her was the Cabernet Franc and the Norton. The difference between the three red wines is very small. We both gave these three reds four stars out of five which means we would go out of our way to get these wines again. We give the entire operation and the town of Westphalia four stars as well. By the time we had what seemed like a quick tour, enjoyable tastings and chat with Terry and dinner, we we’re very surprised to learn that 3 ½ hours had passed.
When it came to time purchase our wines at the end of our stay, Terry told us he was selling only the 2008 Norton Reserve and not the 2006 which we had tasted. I was a little apprehensive about this since I liked the 2006 so much. WOW! A couple days later we opened up a 2008 Norton Reserve in a relaxed setting, gave it just a little time to breathe and this Norton was fabulous. It was all the 2006 was and more. The 2008 had even deeper hints of what I would describe as pipe tobacco, mocha, nut, vanilla and raspberry or some type of berry anyway. It was so layered and complex and yet so smooth. It warrants the first five star rating I have ever given to a red. A five star rating means that I have to have this wine as a part of my life. On the Norton Wine Travelers’ recommendation, we drove out of our way to visit this winery. Based on these wines and really our total experience, we will drive out of our way to visit Westphalia again whenever possible.
As a final aside, for those of you who are Norton enthusiasts, Terry shared that Jenni McCleod, owner of Chrysalis Winery in Virginia, had visited Westphalia a week before us. Those of you who have read Todd Kliman’s enthralling book “The Wild Vine”, which is about the Norton grape and the varied cast of characters along the way, know the story has many interesting Virginia – Missouri connections. What Kliman’s book didn’t tell us is that Jenny is originally from Westphalia, Missouri. Jenny herself is yet another one of these connections."
Thank you for being a highlight of our recent vacation. Really a highlight of 15 years of visiting wineries.
Guy and Ernene Mockelman
"I am the glad recipient of the bottle of Westphalia "Prodigal Son" (2008) that you gave to my brother-in-law, Boris Bauer, of the Norton Wine Travelers mentioned in your blog. Boris wanted me to share my impressions:
The wine presents a dark, reddish-brown color which is expected from a Norton but there is also a bright ruby halo around the outer edge, altogether pleasing.
On the nose, the wine bombards you with woods' earth and dried apricots with herbal and citric overtones.
In the mouth, there is an immediate burst of flavor, not just with the first but with each sip through at least two glasses (I stopped there). The wine is fruit forward but the fruit is luscious and ripe and complex almost like a late harvest wine. The finish is slow and lingering.
This wine would pair happily with home baked bread and ripe Camembert or Stilton following a meal, a bit like a Port.
Most of the Nortons I have tasted are such huge wines they overpower food so I am especially interested in how Norton blends with other grapes. "Prodigal Son" is a blend of Norton and Cabernet Franc and it is lovely.
Many thanks to you for making it possible for me to sample this wine. Next time, just send it directly to me!"
Restaurants embrace Kobe beef, Japanese-style meat in Columbia
COLUMBIA — Terry Neuner worked eight years for 3M in Japan before his employers treated him to a Kobe beef dinner. The meal was worth the wait.
“It was so good, I knew then that this was something I wanted to bring back home,” said Neuner, who owns Westphalia Vineyards, a farm southwest of Jefferson City.
And he did bring Kobe beef to central Missouri—as much as anyone could have. Trademarked Kobe Beef is found only in Japan and costs up to 100,000 yen per kilogram, or $550 a pound, said Daisuke Terao of the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. It is one of several brands of upscale beef from a Japanese breed of cattle called Wagyu. Scientists and farmers say Wagyu cattle produce some of the highest quality beef in the world, and it is prized for its flavor, tenderness and snow-white marbling.
Wagyu gonna do? Westphalia couple tends grapevines, fattens calves and waits for sons By Marcia Vanderlip, Wednesday, June 9, 2010
In 1973, Terry and Mary Neuner fell in love with 400 acres of rich land and forest in the Maries River valley near Westphalia. The land had been worked by German immigrants who had built their farmhouse sometime in the 1840s.
Terry Neuner watches his herd of Japanese wagyu cattle. The
horned breed produces wagyu Kobe beef, named for
where the wagyu cattle were first bred.
“We loved the natural beauty of this place,” Mary said. But it wasn’t for sale.
They moved on. Terry’s career with 3M Co. took the couple and their three children to other landscapes. They lived in Brussels, Singapore and Japan.
In 1991, while they were in Europe, Mary’s aunt called from Westphalia. That farm was for sale. Terry jetted back and bought the farm, and they have been restoring the land, buildings and mending lots of fences ever since. Both in their early 60s, they hold out hope that someday their two sons — who live in San Diego — will take over the farm, the winery/vineyard and the Japanese wagyu cattle business that began when Terry retired from 3M in 2003.
November, 2009 Westphalia Vineyards Cabernet Franc Recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as “Top Missouri Wine”
Westphalia Vineyard’s 2007 Cabernet Franc scored an 87 in Wine Enthusiast magazine, receiving the highest rating by any Missouri winery. Please visit their website www.winemag.com and search “Missouri wines” for a listing. According to Wine Enthusiast, “This wine has an elegant, refreshing character that offers complexity as well as approachability. The nose is a combination of red berry, spice and pepper, and on the palate, spicy, savory flavors give the wine a meaty complexity. Overall though, it offers good balance and minerality and a long, appealing finish. — S.K. (10/1/2009)”
What Makes Westphalia Vineyards Unique:
Westphalia Vineyards adds no sulfites during the production process. We are the only sulfite-free winery in Missouri, and among only three in the entire US.
Westphalia Vineyards uses exclusively Missouri white oak barrels, not only for aging but also for barrel fermentation of our red wines. This expensive and time-consuming method helps create fresh and vigorous varietals.
June 25, 2008 San Francisco, California Missouri winery Westphalia Vineyards wins a coveted Silver Medal at San Francisco International Wine Competition
The San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest, most influential international wine competition in America, is judged by a prestigious panel of 45 nationally recognized wine experts. Judging is based on a blind, consensual procedure, ensuring that its rigor and integrity remain the nation’s most respected competition.
Westphalia Vineyards is one of only three Missouri wineries to medal in the entire competition (also medaling: Stone Hill, St. James). Over 1,150 wineries from 21 countries entered the competition. Westphalia Vineyards competed against Californian, French, Spanish, Italian, Australian, South American, and other internationally renowned wine regions in the Cabernet Franc category. It is the only 2007 Cabernet Franc vintage to medal. At $14 retail is the also the least expensive Cabernet Franc that medaled, with some wines retailing for as high as $96 in this category. Cabernet Franc is a smooth red wine, very popular in Bordeaux, France.
Westphalia Vineyards founder Terry Neuner, on this impressive recognition:
“We entered our 2007 Cabernet Franc only a few weeks after bottling. We expect it to be an outstanding wine, and thought it had a chance to compete with the big boys. The fact that we add no sulfites, ferment and age in only Missouri white oak barrels, and really try to make our wines in a European style certainly helps in making fresh and vigorous wines that are ready to drink almost immediately. Still, we are pleasantly surprised by the results.”
"Terry, I was one of the crazy people you opened your tasting room to yesterday. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say again how much we appreciated your hospitality (and your wine!!). We have met hundreds of people on our wine treks across the state and I can honestly say no one tops your sincerity, generosity and friendliness. Westphalia will be the talk of many conversations in the weeks and months to come!
Thank you again….hope the 7 tons of grapes went well for you - good crushing!!!!"
"Visited this past weekend from KC and was blown away by your Prodigal Son, Naughty But Nice, and Osage Innocence Vignoles. My wife and I split a bottle of Prodigal and enjoyed a fantastic fried chicken dinner with fresh mashed potatoes and green beans. We will be back soon!"
"Just finished my masters degree a few weeks ago, so to celebrate I popped an '06 Norton reserve I had bought a couple years ago from Terry. Better than I remember. Best wishes to everyone at Westphalia."
"We came in to your winery on Friday night and had such a great experience. Your wines are amazing. Yours is the first chocolate wine I like...A LOT! :) Look forward to our next visit!"
"I recently attended the Missouri wine festival at the Elms Hotel in Ex. Springs, Mo. I stopped at your booth and purchased two bottles. Today, I uncorked the Cabernet Franc. I would declare this the best Missouri red of the harvest! Lavender, violets, caramel, toast, fabulous nose and flavor. I would purchase again anytime. I am Googling directions so I can enjoy your wine at your vineyard. I am thankful that Missouri has a dry red to call their own!"
"In celebration of a special occasion we popped the cork of a bottle of Prodigal Son that Eric gave me last summer. My technical ability to describe wine is limited at best. I am better at drinking than describing. However, our friends at the table described the wine as full bodied, complex, with a taste of oak. I just know I liked it a lot and the wine was gone too quickly, causing me to frantically search my wine rack for more Westphalia... It is time to place an order for the holidays."
Brian A (AKA The Captain)
"Thank you so much for the Westphalia 2008 Norton. Being such a new Norton, I wasn't expecting much, but boy was I wrong. Jane's comments were: "The wine is unsurpassed. Mellow on the palate, but great fruit finish. Norton character without the peppers and sours." This Norton was the blackest wine I've ever seen. I know we hear the term "inky black" often (isn't that just the darkest purple imaginable?), but this is midnight black, cave black, blackberry black, bear black, and you come up with other descriptors of black. There are faint aromas of something that I cannot detail. Damson plums? Currants? Nutmeg? I know this maybe a sacrilege in the world of Norton wines, but was I confusing this wine with the essence of an exceptional Sonoma Valley Russian River Zinfandel? This maybe better than what I imagine when anticipating a bold Norton, but all the while doing this with a medium distinctive oak finish. It's as close to the best of "drink now" Nortons that I've ever had, but willing to bet it could hold up well for a few more years. This is worthy of case investment.
Thank you again for making the effort to meet us in the wilds of St. James."
"Hello Terry, A couple of weeks ago my wife and I stopped in the Norton Room to taste some of your wine. During the tasting, my wife told you she gets serious headaches from drinking some types of red wine. You said she may not get headaches with your Cabernet Franc due to the low sulfates. You also asked that we notify you with the results of her drinking your red wine. We are pleased to report she did not get a headache after Drinking your Cabernet Franc. Sorry to have missed you yesterday but we stopped by and bought four bottles of the Cabernet to take home with us."
"OK, after the fight with UPS I just had to see if the prize was worth it so I cracked open a bottle of the Westphalia Vineyards 2006 Norton Reserve. Oh what a treat (and no, I am not letting its origins cloud my judgment... come taste it for yourself). For those not familiar with the Norton grape (another American varietal, this time red), this wine makes me think that a Zinfandel and a Syrah had a child. The color is a beautiful deep purply-red and produces firm, thick legs in my Riedel. The nose delivers peppery spicy goodness complementing the currant and berry fruits which are transported into the mouth along with a hint of vanilla (interesting note, Westphalia uses Missouri Oak for its barrels making Westphalia Vineyards the closest I can do in "buying Missouri") where we have the flavors mixed with balanced tannins and acid and providing a medium-long finish. The mouthfeel is interesting... it starts off a little soft but firms up the farther it goes through its finish. The juicy fruit makes me smack my lips after each taste and for some reason I cannot stop "sniffing" the wine (it's triggering something from my childhood but I cannot quite tell what it is).
This is a fabulous wine. I wish I had a nice juicy grill-seared steak (I can definitely see this as an alternative to the typical Zinfandel served at cookouts). This is a pretty big wine, drinkable now but should be able to keep a few more years. If you like Zins and Syrahs this wine from a young winery definitely deserves a checking out."