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By Rebecca Woolf
“I challenge you to find another winery that produces this much wine per square foot,” says Jerry Smith, owner of River Ridge Winery in Commerce, Mo. But what this quaint winery lacks in size, it makes up for in production, 3,000 cases of wine a year — and an owner’s personality that’s larger than life.
A house turned gift shop/tasting room and a sprawling patio create a perfect setting to listen to Smith dish out facts about creating the perfect wine. His advice intertwined with tales of Vietnam, life as an air traffic controller and even snippets about the history of rock ‘n roll.
His passion for his profession radiated from him throughout visit from the time he was showing us his vineyards to demonstrating the winemaking process, from crushing to pressing the grapes and from to filtering to bottling — all in what I can only assume used to be a two-car garage space.
The tasting took place at the back half of the gift shop, where I think Smith would’ve been gracious enough let us try every single wine if we’d asked before leading us back to the patio to enjoy dinner outside.
The day ended with a pitstop at “The Yule Log Cabin,” a Halloween/Christmas shop owned and operated by Smith’s wife of 19 years, Joanie. The property is set back in the woods, adorned with 118 decorated trees and an abundance of unique holidays gifts. Both the winery and log cabin are must-see if you ever find yourself in the area.
About the class
Students in the Wine Country Writing class, taught by Nina Furstenau, will be getting a chance to examine not only wine culture and how to write about it, but also how wine is produced and agricultural issues in the vineyard. During this four-day field reporting trip to Missouri wineries in the Ste. Genevieve, Augusta and Hermann areas, students will see A&K Cooperage in Higbee, watch Missouri oak barrels being produced, talk with winemakers and vineyard managers, and learn directly from experts in the field. Join the class with their blog series as they meet the people behind the Missouri wine industry.
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- Wine Country Series: Crown Valley Winery’s large production system
- Wine Country Series: A unique wine tasting at Crown Valley Winery
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