By Laura (Abernathy) Huffman
Have you ever went moose hunting in Missouri? I went two weekends ago and brought home a trophy bottle of Sweet Crater Red wine from Red Moose Vineyard located between Steelville and Salem in Crawford County, Missouri. The vineyard and winery is part of the newly designated Meramec River Wine Trail that features eight wineries in two counties, Crawford and Phelps.
I started my MRWT tour at Peaceful Bend Winery, just fifteen miles north from Red Moose Vineyard. Even though the day was rainy, misty, and gray, the short trip was packed with a scenic punch. I found myself wishing that there were pullover spots so I could have snapped a few photos of the rolling hills. Although I had never driven Highway M or VV before the landscape was familiar, but different. I made a note to myself to ask my geology geek friends if the subtle differences were because of the “Crooked Creek disturbance.” The Crooked Creek structure, with six other structural disturbances, is part of the 38th parallel lineament.
Red Moose Vineyard recalls the geologic history of their land in three of their offerings:
- 38th Parallel, a semi-sweet red
- Sweet Crater Red
- Meteorwhite, a sweet white wine
They remember local history and folklore in their Limberlost, a dry white, named after an old, almost forgotten neighborhood once located near their vineyard.
The Leitner family, comprised of brothers Steve (Red) and Mark (Moose), and their wives, Kathy and Zimm, owners of Red Moose Vineyard know both their land and their soil. The Leitners believe the best wines are “produced when low-intervention is practiced in the vineyard and wine cellar”. The family makes their wines from vine to bottle- planting, vineyard management, harvest, winemaking, and bottling.
Their “hands on” approach crafts a pleasurable, award winning, wine. The winery creates eleven wines. Six of those: 2015 Chambourcin, Four Corners (dry red), Fruition (dry red), 38th Parallel, Sweet Crater Red, and Limberlost have all been awarded by the Missouri Wine Competition.
Fruition, the 2017 Missouri Wine Competition Silver Medal Winner, plays double duty as Red Moose Vineyards “wine with a cause.” Fruition is an un-oaked, dry red blend aged in stainless steel. The vineyard pledges a portion of the sale of each bottle to various local and national not-for-profit organizations.
Red Moose’s wines are available at local retailers. However, the bottled wine may very well be best enjoyed mere feet away from where it began.
- Red Moose Vineyard’s tasting room opened to the public June, 2015
- Red Moose Vineyard ages their wines in oak barrels crafted by McGinnis Wood Products at Cuba, MO.
- When searching for the perfect real estate to locate their vineyard and winery the Leitners’ agent nicknamed this property “the Crater Property.”
- The vineyard produces three grapes: Norton, Chambourcin and Cayuga.
- Red Moose Vineyard was awarded “Editor’s Choice” in the best wine category during the 2017 Best of Rural Missouri Reader’s Choice contest.
- The tasting room also offers light fare and craft beers by Public House Brewing Company.
- Pack a picnic! Savor a basket lunch under the oaks or near the spring.
- Tap your feet! Live music is booked for Saturday afternoons year round, except during winter.
- Red Moose Vineyard tends to their vines by hand- NO mechanical pruning or harvesting.
For further exploration discover Missouri’s Route 66 Gems: Saint James and Waynesville and Ozark Agriculture Museum at Maramec Spring Park.