On Valentine’s Day, twelve couples made their way 20 minutes northwest of downtown Kansas City, through the romantic rolling hills and fertile soil of the Missouri River Valley to the brand-new tasting room and production facility for Terra Vox, a new Missouri winery from Vox Vineyards.
The invitation came from winemaker Jerry Eisterhold, who sold tickets to a special wine-and-cheese tasting event that served as the official christening for the wines of Terra Vox, which means “Voice of the Land” in Latin.
It also served as a bit of a focus group for Eisterhold, one that allowed 24 people the opportunity to sample his wines, made from the more than 40 different American Heritage Grapes varietals that Eisterhold is currently growing.
“Our winemaking consultant from University of California, Davis, Clark Smith, said we had more grapes in the ground than Gallo,” Eisterhold told his guests with a chuckle. His plan over time is to thin the vines down to the dozen or so that thrive in his soil and produce the best wines for Terra Vox.
Eisterhold’s decision to grow American Heritage varietals was inspired by Thomas Volney Munson, the viticulturist credited with saving Europe’s traditional grape varieties from the late-1800s Phylloxera epidemic by grafting European varietals onto Missouri root stock, which was immune to the pest.
The way Eisterhold sees it, Munson’s work is the philosophical foundation of Vox Vineyards. All the middle-American grapes that Munson discovered in Missouri are the same ones that Eisterhold is growing to make Terra Vox wines.
Although his new tasting room has bottles for sampling and purchase, Eisterhold admits his wines are still a work in progress. He knows he is just at the beginning of his journey.
“At Vox Vineyards, we are just embarking on our journey to discover the individual characteristics of our unusual American Heritage Grapes,” he says. “With each harvest, we learn new information about grape-growing and winemaking.”
Also at the tasting was Sarah Hoffmann, owner/cheesemaker for Green Dirt Farm, who greeted guests warmly. Hoffmann had paired her sheep’s milk cheeses with the ten wines on offer so that one red and one white wine was offered with each of the five cheese courses.
It was during the tasting of Eisterhold’s favorite white wine, Hidalgo, and his peppery 2012 Norton, a red, that guests got a glimpse of where Eisterhold is in his wine-making journey. He admitted to the group of family and friends, “I left the Norton on the vines longer than anyone who makes a living at this would have.”
He is honest about the undertaking’s current limitations. He writes on his website, “This is more a missionary effort than a commercial one – we do not have a tasting room ‘staff’ per se, but would be happy to show you around and give you a taste, scheduled in between winery and grape growing work.”
The Terra Vox tasting room at Vox Vineyard is open by appointment only. To visit the vineyard, call (816) 425-3219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tours will be offered to groups of 4-10 on the weekends, and are $10 per person, which includes a small tasting of three Vox wines.
They are also hosting two chef dinners out at their new tasting room in April. One is April 4th with Chef Ted Habiger from Room 39, and April 11th with Chef Michael Foust, The Farmhouse. Tickets can be purchased for these dinners through Brown Paper Tickets.
Terra Vox Tasting Room at Vox Vineyards 19310 NW Farley Hampton Road, Suite #3, Kansas City, Missouri. http://www.voxvineyards.com