Jill Rohrbach, travel writer
The celebratory charms of Switzerland, which include stone tossing, grape stomping, dancing and lots of food, can be found in Wiederkehr Village every fall during Weinfest, held at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars this year from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5. The day-long event is fun for the whole family and admission is free.
Weinfest commemorates the rich heritage, culture and harvest of Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, one of the oldest and largest wineries in mid-America. It is located on the southern slopes of the Ozark Mountains atop St. Mary’s Mountain, where the Wiederkehr family carries on a tradition of winemaking begun in 1880 when Johann Andreas Wiederkehr and his family emigrated from Switzerland to America. Vineyards surround the winery, which is designed in the Swiss alpine style overlooking the Arkansas River Valley.
Activities for Weinfest include free wine tasting tours and tram rides through the vineyards. Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, will be there to enchant and entertain. There will also be arts and crafts, a dog show, crowning of the Weinfest Queen, carriage rides, and horseback trail rides. Cultural fun includes music and dancing in the Weingarten, Stein Stemmen (stone toss), Baum Stossen (log toss) and the ever-popular grape stomping contests. You can choose to be a spectator or a contestant.
A beer garden and concession stands featuring international foods serve your food and drink needs along with Weinkeller Restaurant. The original hand-dug wine cellar, now the site of the Weinkeller Restaurant serving Swiss and European cuisine, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also on the grounds, The Vintage 1880 Wine Shoppe sells wine, gourmet items, and wine-related gifts from corkscrews and wine stoppers to wine glasses and T-shirts. Wiederkehr also accommodates groups in its banquet hall and travelers in its RV park.
Wiederkehr serves an array of award-winning wines, from classic French varieties and dessert wines to sparkling wines.
Wiederkehr Village is located on Interstate 40 at Exit 41. Follow the signs to Wiederkehr Wine Cellars. Wiederkehr Village Wine & Spirits, a tourist information center, liquor store, and tasting room is located at Exit 41.
For a detailed schedule of Weinfest activities or more information on Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, visit www.WiederkehrWines.com or phone 479-GOT-WINE (468-9463).
About Arkansas Tourism Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit www.arkansas.com