Terra Vox Vineyard is a winery project nearly 20 years in the making in the rolling terrain of Platte County.
It’s doing something rather unique in making small-batch wines from native grapes, most of which you’ve never heard of.
Owner Jerry Eisterhold is a disciple of the “postmodern” wine-making movement promoted by California oenologist Clark Smith. Smith has consulted with the vineyard and, as Eisterhold told it this weekend, is helping to lead the venture to new and very interesting heights.
Eisterhold has grown as many as 60 varieties of wine, all native to North America, in his rolling six acres of planted ground. His goal is to rein that in and get down closer to a manageable 20 varieties, based on further experimentation and the painstaking process of discovering what each grape can bring to the proverbial table with each harvest.
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I tasted several of the wines at a dinner on Saturday night -- a white blend, one named Hidalgo, one called Wetumpka; and reds named for the Lenoir grape plus an impressive version of the well-known Missouri varietal Norton. A red blend is labeled Chateuneuf du Platte, and -- surprise -- it makes a supremely rustic and fruit-forward statement. The wine contends to be something like a distant cousin of the king of Rhone Valley blends, whose name -- Chateauneuf du Pape -- it playfully borrows.
The dinner was made by Chef Ted Habiger and his crew (of Room 39) in collaboration with the winery and Green Dirt Farm, another Platte County experiment in food culture. The winery’s dining room, designed by Eisterhoold, is styish and comfortable and overlooks some lovely Platte County hills.
Green Dirt’s lamb and sheep dairy products appeared throughout the meal. Habiger and Eisterhold worked out some beautiful wine pairings for each course.
Two dozen people attended this new wine-dinner venture for Terra Vox. At $170 a person it’s a special-occasion investment, but it turned out to be a real culinary and wine discovery. On a Saturday in early spring the combination of Platte County terroir, the bounty of local foods and the creative spirit of the kitchen were transporting.