A Complete Guide to Arkansas Wineries and Wine Trails
Arkansas may not be a leading state in the wine industry but it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked! In fact, there are nearly 20 Arkansas wineries you can visit in the state that offer delicious wines, beautiful outdoor scenery, and affordable bottles to take home. The Altus Wine Trail has perhaps the most well-known Arkansas wineries and also the most to visit. In this post, we’ll cover all of the Arkansas wineries you’ll find on the Altus Wine Trail, which is known as Arkansas’ Wine Country, plus other wine trails you’ll find in Arkansas.
History of the Arkansas Wineries in Altus
In the 1870s a colony of German-Swiss immigrants moved to the foothills of the Ozark Mountains and noticed that the climate was favorable for growing grapes. Thus they started planting in the fertile soil of Altus. Some of the famous winemakers in the area were Joseph Bachman, Henry Sax, Herman Wiederkehr, and Jacob Post – some of these names you’ll soon become familiar with on the Altus Wine Trail. These Arkansas transplants began cultivating different varieties of grapes and producing their own wine that soon gained national attention after Joseph Bachman won a silver medal for one of his wines at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
During Prohibition, winemakers in Altus were allowed to continue the production of sacramental wine for churches in the area including St. Mary’s Catholic Church which is still open today. But as you can probably guess, other wines were produced and sold behind closed doors.
Today there are six wineries on the Altus Wine Trail that have a rich history and a few are owned and operated by fourth and fifth-generation descendants of Wiederkehr and Post! Now, Arkansas is now known as the oldest and largest wine-producing state in the southern United States which is definitely something to write home about.
Wines Unique to Arkansas
At nearly all of the Arkansas wineries you’ll find in this post you’re bound to see two styles of wine that you may have not heard of before. These wines come from two native Arkansas grapes, Cynthiana and Muscadine. Well, come to think of it I feel like I’d heard of Muscadine wine in a country song before, but I’m here to tell you now that it’s a real thing!
The Muscadine grape is native to the southern United States and has been used to make wine since the 16th century. It is considered to be a port-style wine that often runs on the sweeter side because of the additional sugar is used in the production method. Muscadine grapes can be found in a number of different color varieties and can grow up to the size of ping-pong balls or golf balls! While I’m not normally a fan of sweeter wines, this wine is very refreshing when chilled on a hot summer day.
The Cynthiana grape is the state grape of Arkansas, making it very special to the state! Like the Muscadine grape, the Cynthiana (referred to as Norton in Missouri) is a native grape to Arkansas and is actually considered to be the oldest native North American grape still in cultivation. As for Cynthiana wine, it is sometimes referred to as the “Cabernet of the Ozarks.” One of the reasons you’ll find the Cynthiana grape in Arkansas is due to its hardiness to winter and disease resistance. When I first tasted Cynthiana wine I was smitten and immediately bought a few bottles to take home! If you like dryer red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, I have no doubt you’ll like Cynthiana.
When is the Best Time to Visit Arkansas Wineries?
I personally think that spring, summer, and fall are the best times of the year to visit Arkansas wineries because the weather is perfect for the patio and there are usually annual events throughout the year during these seasons. If you want fewer crowds I suggest visiting in the spring. We last went to the Altus Wine Trail in early April and it wasn’t very busy at all which gave us more time to talk to the bartenders and try more wine. However, summer is a very popular time to visit the wineries and you can often enjoy live music on weekends at many of the wineries.
Throughout the year there are a number of annual events that can be enjoyed such as Trifest which is made up of the Annual Cowie Wine Fest and Grape Stomp, Arkansas Wine Heritage Day, and the Amateur Wine Competition. These events are usually held on the second Saturday in September at Cowie Wine Cellars in Paris, Arkansas.
Arkansas Wineries on the Altus Wine Trail
The Altus Wine Trail has the most well-known wineries in Arkansas so that is what I’m going to highlight first! There are six different wineries to visit on this Arkansas wine trail so be sure to plan at least a full day for your visit. There are also a few restaurants on the wine trail to dine at and a number of outdoor patios to relax on while you enjoy your tasting. I recommend visiting on a weekday or a Saturday because a number of the wineries are closed on Sundays!
Map of the Altus Wine Trail
Cowie Wine Cellars
Cowie Wine Cellars is the only Arkansas winery on this wine trail that isn’t located within Altus. It is actually located in Paris, Arkansas! However, it’s just a short drive away so make sure you stop here either first or last on your winery trip depending on where you’re heading to next.
Cowie Wine Cellars is one of the most unique wineries on the Altus Wine Trail because, in addition to wine, they have the only museum in the United States that is dedicated to preserving the wine history of a complete state! The Wine Museum brings the heritage of Arkansas wineries to visitors by preserving artifacts and the stories of how these Arkansas wineries came to be and their influence today.
Another feature that is unique to Cowie Wine Cellars is the collection of bells you can see around the grounds that date back hundreds of years! The oldest in the collection was cast in 1727 Scotland. If you decide to go, make sure to ask for a brief tour of the bells and chapel where you might even get the chance to ring them!
As far as wine goes, Cowie Wine Cellars is one of the smaller producers but they have still won a number of awards! Their first award was at the Eastern Wine Competition in 1982 for their Cynthiana Wine. Over 700 wines were entered and they won a silver medal. Then in 1997, their Blueberry Wine was chosen to be offered to the official wine taster for Queen Elizabeth II! Talk about a victory. But perhaps their most famous wine is the Robert’s Port Wine which is a gold medal winner 100 times over.
I recommend trying at least one of their Mead wines which are created by fermenting honey with water, a Muscadine like the Southern Rose, the Arkansas Queen, a Cynthiana wine, and of course, the infamous Robert’s Port.
Location: 101 N Carbon City Rd, Paris // MAP
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 9am-4:30pm, Closed Sundays
Tasting Cost: Free for the first four.
The Post family started growing grapes and producing wine in the 1870s and today that legacy continues to live on with another generation of the Post family. Post Winery is one of the larger vineyards and wine distributors in Arkansas so chances are if you live in Arkansas (or even a few other nearby states) you might be able to buy their wine in your local grocery store or liquor store!
Post Winery has some of our favorite wines like the Blue Parachute, Zarza Mora, and Enchantment. It is also a great place to stop for lunch because they have a full menu with indoor and outdoor seating options. For non-drinkers or those under 21, Post also has a variety of grape juice flavors that you can enjoy that are made from the grapes in their vineyards!
For your tasting, you can choose six different wines of which I recommend trying the Zarza Mora a merlot blended with blackberry juice, the Enchantment a red wine made with 100% Enchantment grapes, and the Blue Parachute, which is one of their most famous wines. Blue Parachute is a white wine that is subtly sweet and refreshing with lots of fruit notes. I also recommend buying some wine-infused chocolate before you leave for a delicious and fun souvenir!
Location: 1700 Saint Mary’s Mountain Road, Altus // MAP
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5:30pm, Closed Sundays
Tasting Cost: $5 for six tastings.
Mount Bethel Winery
Mount Bethel Winery is one of the smaller family-owned and operated wineries on the Altus Wine Trail but offers a ton of unique wine flavors and has a rich history in the area. Mount Bethel Winery was founded in 1956 by Eugene Post, the great-grandson of Jacob Post. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Arkansas, he decided to open his own winery in the old underground cellars of the original Mrs. Joseph Post Winery to continue and expand the family winemaking tradition.
The cellar is now used as Mount Bethel’s tasting room and is a great place to cool off on a hot day. For tastings, I recommend trying the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Viognier, a light-bodied white wine, and for something unique, the Elderberry wine!
Location: 5014 Mt Bethel Dr, Altus // MAP
Hours: Sunday 12pm-5pm, Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm
Tasting Cost: Free for the first four.
Wiederkehr Wine Cellar
Wiederkehr Wine Cellar is the most charming of the Arkansas wineries we’ve visited. It is located within a Swiss Alpine village and has carried on the family tradition of winemaking since 1880 making it the oldest and largest winery in mid-America. Wiederkehr Wine Cellar was founded by Herman Wiederkehr and was the first winemaker in Altus, after that the Post family began their business.
If you’re looking for another place for lunch or a great place to grab dinner, definitely visit the Weinkeller Restaurant before or after your tasting. It has a large German-Swiss menu with entrees like Poulet Roti au Vin Blanc, a roast chicken dish made from an old family recipe.
The tasting room of Wiederkehr is quite large and has a beautiful ornate buffet at the back. I knew there had to be some history there so I asked our bartender if they knew the story. Apparently, it was built in 1850 and was a gift from a father to his daughter on her wedding day. Before it was purchased by Wiederkehr in 1972 it was located in Little Rock. The details you’ll see on this beautiful black walnut buffet were created with paper mache and gold overlay. I won’t spoil the whole story so you’ll have to go for a tasting to get the rest! Speaking of wine tastings, at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars I recommend trying the Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot, and Red Muscadine but honestly I enjoyed all of the wines I had here.
Location: 3324 Swiss Family Dr, Wiederkehr Village // MAP
Hours: Sunday 11am-7pm, Monday-Thursday 11am-8pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-9pm
Tasting Cost: Free for the first five.
Currently, the regular tasting room at Dionysus Wine is closed. But have no fear, you can actually taste Dionysus wines at the Wiederkehr Village tasting room (mentioned above). Per the person we talked to at Wiederkehr, Dionysus isn’t a winery that uses Arkansas grapes, they actually use California grapes. But they still have great wine nonetheless! I mean, California IS pretty well known for its wines, right? I don’t know much about the history of Dionysus Wine but I do know that they typically offer yurt lodging during certain seasons and they also offer local Arkansas beers for those that might not enjoy wine tasting. I’m not sure when their regular tasting room will be open again, but for now, you can get a two-for-one at Wiederkehr!
For your tasting, I recommend the Lodi Symphony, a white wine that has notes of honeysuckle and grapefruit, the Lodi Old Vine Zin which is a dry red with berry notes, and for something unique, I recommend the Chocolate Dessert Wine at the end of your tasting. It tastes exactly like a cherry Tootsie Pop!
Location: 3324 Swiss Family Dr, Wiederkehr Village // MAP (Current Location for Tastings)
Hours: Sunday 11am-7pm, Monday-Thursday 11am-8pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-9pm
Tasting Cost: Free for the first five.
Château Aux Arc
Château Aux Arc is the newest Arkansas winery to the Altus Wine Trail but don’t let that stop you! The wines here are absolutely delicious. When Château Aux Arc opened in 2001, Audrey House was the youngest winery owner in the world and this was also the first and only winery in Arkansas to be owned and operated by a woman. Among her many accolades and achievements she belongs to the Court of Master Sommeliers and worked hard to get the Cynthiana grape recognized as Arkansas’ State Grape. Round of applause for this leading lady!
When Audrey first started as a winemaker she only produced two wines, Chardonnay and Altage. But since then, she has quickly expanded her wine list with a focus on 100% Arkansas-grown vintages, many of which have won awards.
Château Aux Arc has perhaps one of the most generous tastings. For $10 you can try as many of the wines as you would like. I really enjoyed all of the wines but my favorites were the 2015 & 2016 Cynthiana, Dragonfly Red, and Smashed Grace, a wine blend of Concord, Zinfandel, and Muscat. All proceeds of Smashed Grace go to supporting breast cancer research.
Location: 8045 AR-186, Altus // MAP
Hours: Sunday 12pm-5pm, Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Tasting Cost: $10 for unlimited tastings, souvenir wine glass included.
Other Things to Do Near the Altus Wine Trail
See the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Arkansas
Before or after your visit to Cowie Wine Cellars you have to make a quick stop at the Eiffel Tower Park in Paris, Arkansas. This park is located in the center of the town and has a small replica of the Eiffel Tower, a love lock gate, a water fountain, and some murals! It’s a super cute place for a photo opportunity or you can add your own lock to the gate with a friend or loved one!
Location: 12 N Express St, Paris // MAP
Visit Nearby Mount Magazine State Park
If you like scenic views, hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities then you should consider spending a little time at Mount Magazine State Park! This Arkansas State Park is located only 20 minutes from the center of Paris, Arkansas, and around an hour from Altus. Mount Magazine is located within the Ozark-St. Francois National Forests and is the highest point in Arkansas at 2,753 feet. During the autumn months, it is a premier destination for viewing fall foliage on the scenic drive up the mountain. Another notable thing at Mount Magazine State Park is the Lodge at Mount Magazine which is an excellent place to vacation and enjoy epic views of Arkansas valleys.
Location: 577 Lodge Dr, Paris // MAP
Explore the Unexpected Murals in Fort Smith
Another place that is worth exploring in the area is Fort Smith, Arkansas! Fort Smith is about 45 minutes from Altus and has a ton of unique things to do and places to eat. One of our favorite things about Fort Smith is the Unexpected Murals Project in Downtown Fort Smith. This urban and contemporary art project started in 2015 as a way to revitalize the downtown. Each year there is a weeklong festival that adds to the growing collection featuring many world-renowned artists and local artists too.
Location: Start here → 2 N B St, Fort Smith, AR 72901 // MAP
READ MORE: The Top Things to Do in Fort Smith
Other Arkansas Wine Trails
While the Altus Wine Trail may be the most well-known Arkansas wineries. There are also a few other wine trails in Arkansas that are worth noting as well! Here are a few others that you can check out in the state.
Ozark Wine Trail
The Ozark Wine Trail is located in the Northwest Arkansas area and is made up of four wineries. I recommend this wine trail if you are spending time in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Siloam Springs, Eureka Springs, or anywhere else in the Northwest Arkansas area.
Map of the Ozark Wine Trail
Keels Creek Winery
Keels Creek Winery is one of two wineries located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The Owners, Dr. Doug Hausler, a retired Analytical Chemist, and his wife Edwige Denyszyn, a successful artist, began production in 2006. They worked with three other vineyards to produce 750 cases of wine within their first year! Now, they are at 2,000 cases annually using eight different varieties of grapes.
Their goal is to continue their work with local vineyards as well as harvest from their own vineyards to create a boutique wine experience for all of their buyers and guests. One of the ways they create this environment is by offering a space for local artists to display their work! Since one of the owners is an artist too I thought this was a nice touch.
I haven’t personally visited Keels Creek Winery yet or tried any of their wines but it’s on my to-do list when I’m in Eureka Springs next!
Location: 3185 E Van Buren, Eureka Springs // MAP
Hours: 12pm-5pm daily
Tasting Cost: Currently free, usually $5 which includes a souvenir glass.
Railway Winery is the second winery located within Eureka Springs near the Blue Spring Heritage Center. This small winery is owned by Vicki and Greg Schneider and they produce a large variety of wines including fruit wines. In addition to wine, they also sell beer, moonshine, and wine slushies which are perfect for a hot summer day!
Although I have not been to their winery, I heard that they have a great porch to sit on outside where you can enjoy a glass of wine outdoors feeling like you’re sitting at the comfort of someone’s home.
From what I’ve read, some of their most popular wines are Little Ed’s Big Red, a Chambourcin wine, Traminette, a tropical citrusy wine with florals, or the Midnight Express, a sweet red Muscadine wine.
Location: 4937 State Hwy 187, Eureka Springs // MAP
Hours: Sunday 12pm-5pm, Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Closed Monday and Tuesday
Tasting Cost: Free for the first three.
Tontitown Winery is located on the west side of Springdale, Arkansas. It has been owned and operated by the Ranalli family since 1923. They grow all of their own grapes in vineyards near the winery and offer free tastings every day of the week. While you’re there for a tasting, be sure to visit their history room in order to learn more about the Tontitown Winery.
When we first moved to Northwest Arkansas we lived only a few miles from Tontitown Winery and first visited during the infamous Tontitown Grape Festival held every summer. On weekends in the summer they also have live music where you can enjoy a glass of wine with some food. Make sure you bring your own chair so you can guarantee a place to sit!
For the tasting, I recommend trying Italian Red, a semi-dry red wine, Ives Noir, a medium sweet red wine, and the Amico Della Nonna, a Concord wine that is a Tontitown tradition.
Location: 335 N Barrington Rd, Springdale // MAP
Hours: Sunday 12pm-5pm, Monday-Thursday 11am-7pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm
Tasting Cost: Free
Sassafras Springs Winery
Sassafras Springs Vineyard opened in 2014 and is one of Arkansas’ newest wineries, but you wouldn’t guess this winery was this young when you do a tasting! It is located on the east side of Springdale (almost in Fayetteville) and has a terrific outdoor setting that spans over 15 acres within the mountains. Honestly, this is one of the Arkansas wineries with the best views! Because of the beautiful scenery, it has become a popular place for weddings and they have an onsite venue that is gorgeous!
Sassafras Springs has a full menu where you can order pizzas or a charcuterie board to snack on with friends while you enjoy your wine. I recommend ordering a wine flight which is the perfect way to try a little bit of everything! They offer a white flight which has all white wines, a red flight with all reds, the sweet flight with sweeter wines, and the Sassafras flight which has a mix of red, white, and rose wines plus their featured wine of the week.
Location: 6461 E Guy Terry Rd, Springdale // MAP
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday, & Wednesday 11am-7pm, Thursday-Saturday 11am-9:30pm, Closed Mondays
Tasting Cost: $10 for a wine flight tasting (4 wines with generous pours)
Capital Wine Trail
The Capital Wine Trail has the central most Arkansas wineries stretching across the Arkansas River Valley Region from Morrilton to Little Rock. Within the Capital Wine Trail, you can find four wineries to enjoy!
Map of the Capital Wine Trail
Movie House Winery
Movie House Winery is perhaps one of the most unique Arkansas wineries on this list! It was founded in 2011 by Sherrie and Ken Sowers and was first located in the historic Petit Jean Movie Theater that was built in the 1930s. Next door to the winery was Ken’s chiropractic business which started a trend of people calling the building “The Wine and Spine Building.” The couple found it so funny they even came up with the motto “If one of us can’t fix you the other can.” LOL!
However, in 2017 they moved Movie House Winery to a new, larger location on their farm. But their debut as Movie House lives on in the names of their wines each with a nod to popular films.
Location: 99 Sandtown Rd, Morrilton // MAP
Hours: Thursday-Saturday 12pm-6pm, Closed Sunday-Wednesday
Tasting Cost: Free
An Enchanting Evening
An Enchanting Evening is another Arkansas winery that lies within a stunning setting that is perfect for weddings, engagements, special occasions, or just your average day of wine tasting. I mean, we should treat ourselves to nice views more often right? The wine tastings take place in the onsite yurt which I found to be an interesting, fun place to have a tasting!
Currently, An Enchanting Evening is only doing wine tastings by appointment only on Sundays, Fridays, and Saturdays. So be sure to call them at 501-330-2182 to schedule your tasting.
Location: 29300 AR-300, Roland // MAP
Hours: Sunday 12pm-5pm, Friday 5pm-8pm, Saturday 10am-5pm
Tasting Cost: Free
River Bottom Winery
River Bottom Winery is owned by BoBrook Farms which also produces a number of crops like pumpkins, blackberries, blueberries, and of course, grapes. They specialize in making wines made from the fruit grown on the farm and offer a variety of traditional wines and fruit wines.
River Bottom Winery is a great hang-out spot for those near Little Rock. They have a great outdoor patio and live music on weekends. In addition to their wine, they offer a wide selection of beers for those who want an alternative. Their tasting area is small so be sure to be patient when visiting but you can try as many wines as you like while you’re there.
We really liked their Red Muscadine, Merlot, and Sangria. For something unique I also recommend trying the Chocolate Raspberry which tastes exactly as it sounds.
Location: 13810 Combee Ln, Roland // MAP
Hours: Saturday & Sunday 12pm-6pm
Tasting Cost: Free
Rusty Tractor Vineyards
Rusty Tractor Vineyards began in 2011 by Sheree and Doug Meyer. They started by planting 200 Muscadines on a one-acre field, saw success, and then expanded their vineyards to over 5,000 vines with many grape varietals. They are primarily an event venue but they do have wine tastings twice a month where you can sample their selection of wines while enjoying some light snacks.
Bath House Wine Trail
The Bath House Wine Trail is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas which is perfect if you are visiting Hot Springs National Park and Bathhouse Row.
Map of the Bath House Wine Trail
The Winery of Hot Springs and Bathhouse Row Winery
I’ve grouped together The Winery of Hot Springs and Bathhouse Row Winery because they are actually the same company just in two different locations. However, you can go to both and get double the tastings! These wineries use grapes from many different places to create the large varieties of wine offered in their storefronts. I recommend trying the Arkansas Red, the Old Mill Muscadine, and Capone’s Red named after the infamous Al Capone who spent a great deal of time in Hot Springs! There is also muscadine hot sauce for sale and grape juice for those who don’t drink wine or those under 21.
- The Winery of Hot Springs
- Location: 1503 Central Ave, Hot Springs // MAP
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-9pm
- Tasting Cost: Free for the first nine.
- Bath House Row Winery
- Location: 220 Central Ave, Hot Springs // MAP
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10am-6pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-8pm
- Tasting Cost: Free for the first 12.
Chances are if you read through this post you’re a fellow wine lover so I hope this has convinced you to give some of these Arkansas wineries a try. Let me know which wine trail interests you most or which places you enjoyed!