A Taste Of The Grape
ine aficionados in Northwest Arkansas don’t have to travel to the Bordeaux region of France or Napa Valley in California to sip award-winning wine. Grapevines prefer a temperate climate, but grapevines are fairly adaptable plants that can thrive in a variety of soil types and temperatures. The American Winery Guide points out that visitors can find a winery and tasting room in nearly every state.
Thanks to the diverse North American climate, the types of grape varietals available in one state to the next will be quite different. Locals may be surprised to learn that a winery or vineyard is just a short drive from home, giving them a chance to support a local business. Nearby, Missouri boasts 134 wineries, Oklahoma has 41 and Arkansas is home to 15 wineries.
One of those local gems is the Winery at Sassafras Springs Vineyard. Nestled in a picturesque 50-acre valley setting just outside of Springdale, the venue includes a wine tasting room, chapel, wine manufacturing building, event center, and of course, vineyards.
The winery currently produces around 1,000 cases of wine each year, featuring six internationally award-winning varietals, including Syrah, Chardonnay, Rose and Riesling. Inside their beautiful tasting room, which began its life more than 50 years ago as an old milk barn, they also feature exceptional wines from all over the world along with craft beer, food, and live music on the weekends. Family and friends can gather on one of the large decks, situated under a colorful canvas of trees along a beautiful creek, or under the covered patio next to the fireplace.
Owners Gene and Cheryl Long of Springdale opened Sassafras Springs Winery and Vineyard in 2014.
“We love what we do, and we love people,” Cheryl noted. A native of Springdale, she said she’d always wanted to create a wedding venue, and “Gene always wanted to start a winery.”
Cheryl also dreamed of building a chapel, a dream fulfilled with the Sassafras Springs Chapel Ruins she designed where couples exchange vows in a charming Old World setting. “We have about 130 weddings each year and 3,000 visitors to the winery each month,” she said.
The 3,500 square foot Stables Event Center accommodates wedding receptions, corporate and nonprofit events, and other special occasions.
In response to feedback from winery customers, coming in 2019 is the Lodge at Sassafras Springs, along with a pizza oven and expanded food offerings.
A great wine-tasting experience in a breathtaking setting, Sassafras Springs Vineyard has been voted Northwest Arkansas’ Best Winery and Best Wedding Venue multiple times.
“It’s a wonderful place where people are always celebrating things,” Cheryl said.
Sassafras Springs has been nominated for Best Wedding Venue, Best Wine Selection and Best Winery in this year’s Best of NWA. Nominations for all categories are open until Wednesday, November 21, 2018. Voting opens on Sunday, December 2, 2018. Visitors can cast a vote each day through December 19, 2018. To nominate and for more information, visit BestNWA.com.