This was year was my third trip in a row for the annual Cynthiana grape harvest at Holy-Field Winery in Kansas. I let everyone know it is one of my favorite wineries and vineyards to visit. I make sure not to miss the Friday night outdoor concerts they host throughout the summer. It’s great to buy a bottle of wine, get some food from the food truck out front, grab a spot in the vineyard, and listen to some great music. I also try to get there once or twice a year for tastings and to pick up a bottle or two….or three! So, of course, I love getting to help with the harvest. We gathered up a few friends and headed to the vineyard for the annual “Picking Sunday” event in the midst of a perfect fall morning.
The Cynthiana Grape and Harvest
The weather was perfect for picking. This year we picked the Norton grape. I say “Norton” because I’m from Missouri and that is what we call it in these parts. In 2003, Missouri officially made it our state grape. However, since we were at a Kansas winery and vineyard, the grape is called “Cynthiana.” In fact, it’s called Cynthiana by nearly everyone else but Missourians. It doesn’t matter to me what you call it, it’s a wonderful grape that produces my favorite Missouri wines. At one time there was an argument that said these two strains were not the same grapes, however, scientists have since concluded that they are the same.
When creating a dry red wine that is full-bodied, Cynthiana grapes are ideal. These grapes produce a wine similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon but with a spicier taste. Cynthiana grapes have an excellent ability to resist diseases that seem to affect the fruit and leaves of other varieties. They are vigorous plants that bear small grapes that are bursting with flavor and tend to ripen in the fall around August and September. As a result, the deep purple grapes, when ripe, make a deeply pigmented and robust wine. It often shows both red and black fruits on the nose and palate and has a unique but intriguing flavor profile that is gentle on the first sip but tightens up with a good core of acidity in the finish. Cynthiana’s fresh berry flavors pair well with grilled meat, smoked meat, and wild game.
About the winery…
I love this particular winery. The owner Michelle greets everyone with a smile and make sure everyone has fun at the Cynthiana grape harvest. According to their website Michelle and her father Les produce 10 varieties that make 19 different wines. Holy-Field Winery is located in Basehor, KS, just outside of Kansas City, Missouri. After the harvest, they provided us with a fantastic buffet brunch and served up some delicious Sangria made with their red wines. We had a good time picking the grapes aftergetting instructions on the proper way to pick them from the vine. As you can see, my granddaughter enjoyed playing in the vineyard and helping us out on our Cynthiana grape harvest as well.
Cynthiana, under the Norton name and made into a wine from Hermann, Missouri, won a gold medal at the 1873 Vienna World Exposition. Henry Vizetelly, a noted critic of the time, said that Norton (Cynthiana) from Missouri would “one day rival the great wines of Europe in quality and quantity,” and many believe his prediction is now coming true. I sure do agree!