Winemakers are hoping a free taste will lure state fairgoers into buying more of their products.
Kansas winemakers, including several from the Lawrence area, will participate in a wine judging competition at this year's Kansas State Fair.
The event -- organized by the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Department of Agriculture -- is the latest effort to increase Kansas' wine industry.
"I think it is going to be a good deal," said Greg Shipe, owner of rural Eudora's Davenport Orchard, Vineyard and Winery. "I think the more people who become aware of our industry, the better. That way they may know more about what our problems are and how they can support us."
The wine judging and cheese tasting event will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson.
In addition to Davenport, Heimhof Winery & Gift Shop, of Leavenworth, and Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery, of Basehor, will participate in the event.
The wine competition will be the first one at the state fair in about three years, Shipe said. Its revival follows the Kansas Department of Agriculture's decision in July to create the Kansas Grape and Wine Industry Advisory Council.
The council is scheduled to meet four times a year to advise the agriculture department on marketing, regulatory, research and legislative issues important to the wine industry.
Shipe is a member of the council and said its creation was a step in the right direction for the state. He said he was hopeful that it could help deal with the growing problem of grape crops being damaged by the errant spraying of 2,4D, a herbicide that is commonly used on several types of row crops.
|A wine judging and cheese tasting event will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. Tasters will get to vote for their favorite red, white and best overall wines.Area businesses that will participate include: Davenport Orchard, Vineyard and Winery, Eudora; Davenport, Heimhof Winery & Gift Shop, Leavenworth, and Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery, Basehor.For more information, call the Kansas Department of Commerce at (785) 296-2477 or e-mail email@example.com.|
"I think the industry's future all hinges on this 2,4D issue," said Shipe, who had 40 percent of his crop damaged by 2,4D spray this year. "We can grow grapes here. There is no problem with that. We have lots of acres in Kansas that would be good for grape growing."
Les Meyer, an owner of Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery, said the fair event might be an opportunity to educate Kansans about the issue, although he said the competition likely would not do much to boost his sales.
"There are still a lot of bourbon and beer drinkers out there," Meyer said.
He said in addition to the spraying issue, the state needed to become stricter in its enforcement of a law that requires Kansas wines to be produced with at least 60 percent Kansas-grown grapes. He said loosening restrictions on winemakers' ability to ship wine via the mail also would be positive.
Kansas vineyards produced 49,000 gallons of wine in 2003, or about 1 percent of the total wine consumed in the state. Prior to Prohibition, Kansas and Missouri produced about 85 percent of all wine consumed in the country.