Tour the grounds and taste the vineyard’s 18 wines for free

Stroll through a thriving vineyard with a glass of wine in your hand. Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery in Paola, Kan., invites you to experience its grape-growing and winemaking processes firsthand. We recently spent time with Somerset representatives who are eager to share their winery’s story and details on their award-winning, handcrafted Kansas wines. [[endteaser]]

1) Tell us the history of your vineyard and winery.

To learn as much as we could about grape growing and winemaking, we first traveled to different winemaking regions of the world. And we studied the history of grape growing here as well. We planted our vineyard in 1998 and made our first vintage in 2001. Most people don’t know that before Prohibition, almost 90 percent of the nation’s wines came from Missouri and Eastern Kansas. So, we’re in a perfect location to build on a tradition.

2) How does the location of your vineyard affect the quality of your grapes?

We have 18 acres of vines situated on a great hillside with plenty of sunshine. Our soil is rocky and rich in lime. These conditions provide us with a wonderful environment for healthy grape growth and maturation, and our 13 grape varieties thrive. Plus, these ideal conditions help us keep our growing operations sustainable – no pesticides and no synthetic fertilizers.

3) How are your grapes harvested?

Our grape harvests are a special event. Customer volunteers converge here for a few hours of work hand-harvesting in the morning, according to traditional European ways. We end with a big, sit-down lunch with wine in the vineyard to celebrate bringing in the harvest.

4) Tell us about your pressing and fermenting processes.

We use bladder presses, which are gentle on the grapes. We ferment the whites in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Our reds are fermented on the skins – punched down several times a day – in open-topped tanks.

5) What is your one “must try” wine?

We make 18 different wines. Our award winners include Ambrosia, Citron, Oktoberfest, Ruby Red and Traminette. But come to our wine-tasting room and sample all the wines we make to find the ones just right for you!

Learn more about Somerset Ridge.