AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

Linda Geist
Senior Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group

June 19, 2018

Fall tour to highlight white oak, whiskey and wine

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri has it all-wine, whiskey and white oak.

University of Missouri Extension will once again toast the state's unique contributions to the wine and whiskey industries during the second annual White Oak, Whiskey and Wine Tour on Saturday, Oct. 13.

MU Extension forester Hank Stelzer and MU Extension viticulturist Dean Volenberg lead the one-day tour through mid-Missouri. "They will see it from start to finish," Stelzer says.

The tour starts at the very beginning in a white oak forest. Attendees will hear what makes white oak a highly prized species for barrels and how foresters manage Missouri's woodlands to ensure a sustainable wood supply for generations to come, says Stelzer.

Artisans craft white oak stave logs from Missouri into more than 1.5 million barrels each year. The barrels go to the rack houses of some of the most prestigious wineries and distilleries in America and Scotland, says Stelzer.

With rolling hills, picturesque views and small-winery charm, Missouri wine country is a popular tourist destination, says Volenberg. Missouri's 11 wine trails feature more than 130 wineries. Missouri wineries produce 7 percent of the country's wine on 1,700 acres of grapes. The $1.76 billion Missouri wine industry employs nearly 15,000 people, according to the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.

The tour by coach bus highlights the town of Higbee. Attendees will see how white oak logs are processed and made ready for the cooper. There are fewer than 50 master coopers in the United States; Higbee boasts two of them. The Oak Cooperage, owned by Silver Oaks Cellars of Oakville, Calif., produces barrels for the company's Napa Valley winery. Barrel 53 Cooperage produces barrels for distilleries across the region. Lunch is provided at The Oak Cooperage.

The tour concludes at the Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery near Rocheport. There, attendees will see the barreling of wine and learn how the white oak barrel imparts its unique traits to a wine's character. Distillers from Wood Hat Spirits of New Florence will tell how they bring together heritage varieties of corn and various species of white oak to create some unique distilled spirits. Participants of legal age will have the opportunity to taste the fruits of both the vintner's and distiller's labor.

The tour begins 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Hilton Garden Inn in Columbia next to Bass Pro Shop and will return to the hotel around 4:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person or $125 per couple and includes transportation, lunch in Higbee and tasting at Les Bourgeois. Registration deadline is Sept. 30. Cancellations will be accepted until Sept. 30 less a $25 nonrefundable fee.

A block of rooms has been reserved until Sept. 21 at the Hilton Garden Inn for interested tourgoers. Hotel reservations are the responsibility of the individual.

Seating is limited to 56 people. To reserve your spot, go to

Source: Hank Stelzer, 573-882-4444

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