Post Family Vinyards & Winery

Tucked at the base of the Boston Mountains in the Arkansas River Valley, sets the tiny town of Altus Arkansas.   Though small, Altus is a giant in the wine industry and home of four wineries and the Arkansas wine trail.

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Wiederkher wine and vineyards

The Wiederkehr family winery, Dionysis winery owned by Dennis Wiederkehr , chateau Aux Arc (Ozark) owned by Audry House, a Yukon Oklahoma girl who purchased 20 acres from Al Wiederkehr,  The Post Familie Winery and Mount Bethal owned by Post Family members and on the site of The Posts original homestead.

Mount Bethel winery. The original homestead of Ma and Joseph Post

Altus is a close-knit community with many of its residents attending the exquisitely beautiful St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a Roman Basilica structure that was dedicated in 1901. , that sits atop St Mary Mountain, next to Altus.

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St Mary’s

In its cemetery rests generations of Posts, Wiederkehrs and others that settled there in the late 1870s – 80s.  Five generations have lived in Altus,  continuing the family legacy of the vineyards and winemaking.
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Jacob Post’s family  grew grapes and made wine in the southwestern corner of Germany but left his home in 1872. He first settled in Illinois but soon found the soil was not suitable for growing grapes. He was told by monks, who had recently opened the Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas, that it would be an ideal spot for a vineyard.  Cool air sinks to the river valley and moist warm air rises to the mountain topped with linker sandy loam soil is ideal for grape growing.  Jacob packed up and settled in the hills of Northwest Arkansas, establishing the oldest commercial vineyard between California and New York.

Jacob began selling wine the next year to the coal miners and railroad workers, many immigrants themselves who were accustomed to drinking wine with their meals.
The family continued to build its business through the years.  Prohibition, however, slowed down production and created a family legend.

In 1929, Katherine (Camenzind) Post, then 56, the wife of Joseph Post, was sentenced to serve 18 months in a federal prison in West Virginia after pleading guilty under the Volstead Act of 1919 (which led to the 18th Amendment of the Constitution banning the sale of alcoholic beverages).  The mother of 16 children was convicted (but later pardoned by the governor) after admitting to the sale of two quarts of homemade whiskey.

She told a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter that repeated crop failures in recent years had “tempted” her to sell the liquor. According to family lore, when Katherine returned home, she reportedly quipped, “That was the best vacation of my life.”  Ma Post then recieved one of the first permits to produce wine in the state of Arkansas.
When the 18th amendment was repealed, Katherine established a winery. Ironically, it was Katherine’s son, James, to whom the Arkansas State legislature turned after Prohibition to help write the laws that would make wine production legal again.

At one time there were more than 40 wineries operating in Altus, and following Prohibition, 23 growers, including the Post family, formed the Altus Cooperative.  At the end of World War II, the cooperative was disbanded ,and James and his son Mathew created Post Winery at its present location.
Post is a primary supplier to other vineyards of the Cynthiana grape, which produces a dry, earthy red wine.  Their grape juice is sold all over the world, in China, Saudi Arabia and Europe.

My personal favorite and guilty pleasure is Post Families, Blue Parachute.   Have you ever tasted a black grape?  It’s the grapiest grape ever…it’s every childhood grape soda or candy you put in your mouth.  Blue parachute is just like a juicy black grape bursting in your mouth!  Divine!

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If you ever find yourself traveling I-40, across Arkansas, make the Arkansas Wine Trail and Altus a detour on your trip.  Enjoy the many exceptional wine tastings along the way, Visit St Mary’s and if you enjoy the wine a lot,  maybe stay the night at the lovely Lamplighter B&B in Ozark, overlooking the Arkansas River and owned by former Ozark Mayor Carol Sneath who is a wonderful hostess and cook!

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Enjoy!

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