Arkansas Wine Overview

Medal-winning wines from Mount Bethel Winery located in Altus, Ark. Credit: Mount Bethel Winery

Medal-winning wines from Mount Bethel Winery located in Altus, Ark.Credit: Mount Bethel Winery

Arkansas has a rich history of grape growing and wine making, and even today produces more wine than most southern states. Dating back more than 150 years when Swiss immigrants settled in Arkansas, grape growing and wine making have been a big part of Arkansas culture.

Grape growing in Arkansas, as it is in most states, owes its success to moderate climate and rich, fertile soil. And so it is in the Arkansas River Valley, where the Arkansas River meanders through the Ozark and Ouchita Mountains. In addition to being exceptionally scenic, this river valley is ideal for grape growing and forms the heart of Arkansas Wine Country.

Arkansas wine history dates back more than 150 years and and produces more wine than most Southern states.

Early wineries created wine from local grapes, fruits and berries — and the practice continues to this day. Cythianna and many other American hybrid grapes do well here, and even Chardonnay grapes are grown in Arkansas. Of course, being a southern state, you’ll find the hardy Muscadine grape here in abundance. It is used not only for wine, but also for pies, jellies and preserves.

Arkansas Wine Country is located northwest of Little Rock and about 45 minutes east of Fort Smith. This is where most of Arkansas wineries are located, although vineyards and wineries have popped up in the northwest part of the state. There’s still a predominantly Swiss and German flavor found in these Wine Country towns, where many winemakers are descendants of original settlers.

All told, there are nine wineries in Arkansas, six of which are in Arkansas Wine Country.

Mt. Bethel is renowned for their Big Daddy Port.

Arkansas Wine Trails

There really isn’t an official Arkansas wine trail, but the area known as Arkansas Wine Country might as well be. Clustered in the small towns of Altus, Paris and Ozark, you’ll find six of Arkansas wineries. The area is easily accessed from Little Rock and can be visited in one day. If you’d prefer a longer visit, there are many charming inns in the vicinity. You can also find a handful of restaurants serving traditional German and Swiss cuisine, so it’s well worth the time to take your time visiting.

Travelogue: Visiting Arkansas Wine Country

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