Foodways

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Wiederkehr Weinfest

Wiederkehr Wine Cellar’s Weinfest is one of the oldest and best-attended festivals in western Arkansas. The first Wiederkehr Weinfest was in 1963, and the event continues to be an annual attraction for locals and tourists. Weinfest celebrates the heritage of the Swiss-German immigrants who settled in Wiederkehr Village atop St. Mary’s Mountain near the city of Altus (Franklin County) during the 1880s. Al Wiederkehr, the winery founder’s grandson, initiated the festival after he returned from an oenological (relating to the study of wine and winemaking) research trip to Europe. During his expedition, he traveled to wine- and grape-producing countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and attended a variety of local festivals. When he came home, he realized that having a …

Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Inc.

Wiederkehr Wine Cellars is the oldest operational winery in the state, having been continually in business from 1880 to present. During Prohibition, when wine was outlawed, Wiederkehr was allowed by the state to produce sacramental wine for use in religious services. This winery was founded in the late nineteenth century by Johann Adreas Wiederkehr, an immigrant from Switzerland who settled in Altus (Franklin County), which he found similar to his own homeland and ideal for growing grapes; it is now one of the largest wineries in the region and is well regarded throughout the nation for the quality of its wines. One of the first things that Johann Wiederkehr did after he arrived in Altus was to start construction on …

Wineries

Winemaking in Arkansas began when European Catholics, primarily German-Swiss but also Italian, immigrated to the state, attracted by the range of opportunities the then-frontier had in store. Chances are that wine was made at the Hinderliter Grog Shop in Little Rock (Pulaski County), built around 1827 by Jesse Hinderliter, a man of German descent, and currently the oldest standing building in the city. In addition, there are accounts of a winery run by one J. Ressor about six miles south of Batesville (Independence County) in the 1830s and records of German immigrants in the small town of Hermannsburg (Washington County) making wine as early as 1845. However, the wine industry of Arkansas really took root in the 1870s. At that …