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Old Vines, New Wines: The Resurgence of American Heritage Grapes

Weekend Program with Tasting

Inside Science program

Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 2:00 p.m.
Code: 1W0016

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Jerry Eisterhold, Vox Vineyards

Grape growers and winemakers have centuries of experience with classic grapes such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Syrah, offering them a professional understanding of how and where these grapes grow, and the characteristics of the wine they make.

But how do winemakers—and wine drinkers—approach grape varieties that have been out of use for generations, such as the American heritage grapes that are now being re-discovered? Jerry Eisterhold, founder of Vox Vineyards in Kansas City, Missouri, offers insights into how winemakers are meeting the scientific and technical challenges of reclaiming the commercial viability of rare North American grapes.

Eisrterhold found his role model as a grape grower in Thomas Volney Munson, the Texas viticulturist famed for saving French vineyards from the Phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s and ′80s. Munson also was an avid breeder of wild grapes, and some of the many varieties he cultivated and preserved in the late 19th century are represented among Vox’s collection of vines. Missouri, a state positioned at the convergence of eastern woodlands, western plains, Ozark highlands, and the Mississippi Delta, offers a congenial environment for cultivating these historic varieties.

Eisterhold presents a brief overview of American heritage grapes, their history, and their resurgence. Then, using wines from Vox’s recent harvests, he offers an in-depth guided tasting of four different suites of wine, each centered on one of these noteworthy, yet generally unexplored varietals.

Limited to 90 participants

Inside Science


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)