Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2005

A sip of summer

Down-the-road winery offers local fare, flavor

July 14, 2005

Visitors to Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery can get more than a taste of local wine there.

The Basehor vineyard crosses a chateau-like wine experience with laid-back Kansas flair for its summertime jazz series events. The outdoor events include live Kansas City jazz, hot half-slabs and cobbler and plenty of wine to go around.

Mandy Hampton pours a taste of red wine for a customer in the
Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery tasting room. The winery, located
in nearby Basehor, offers live jazz, wine and barbecue at each of
its Summertime Jazz Series events.

Mandy Hampton pours a taste of red wine for a customer in the Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery tasting room. The winery, located in nearby Basehor, offers live jazz, wine and barbecue at each of its Summertime Jazz Series events.

"It's kind of like a button-down Napa Valley -- with barbecue," said Don Mowry, Shawnee. "I think we're going to come back. It's a wonderful way to spend a Friday night."

In June, Mowry and Judy Basnett attended an event with a group from their church. They said Basehor was a convenient jaunt for area residents wanting a wine experience without traveling far.

The winery began organizing its summertime jazz series two years ago, said Les Meyer, who owns and operates the winery with his daughter, Michelle Meyer. The events grow each time they have one, he said.

As the sun dipped below the horizon and Johnson County jazz artist Candace Evans crooned in the background, Shana Vaughn of Kansas City, Mo., relaxed with friends and a glass of rose at a table next to Holy-Field's 14 acres of grapevines.

"I like the beauty of being outdoors," said Vaughn, who was attending her second of the jazz series.

When her sister Andi Vaughn interjected, Vaughn didn't deny her allegation.

"She likes to drink the wine," Andi said, laughing.

Michelle Meyer said Holy-Field's jazz series events were planned to embrace the indigenous.

"Everything here is about the Midwest," she said. "I've got wine made and grown here, I've got local barbecue, I've got local talent.

"There's a lot of things in your own backyard if you just take the time to discover it."

Bordeaux and Napa Valley may be the first thoughts of many when they think about good wine, but Meyer said tasters shouldn't be narrow-minded. She said exploring flavors from all regions was part of the fun.

"The beauty of enjoying wine is enjoying new experiences," Meyer said.

Meyer also was quick to point out that Holy-Field wine had won numerous awards. A banner heavy with medals from competitions hangs behind the winery's tasting counter.

Les Meyer planted his first vines in 1986 and has been experimenting with wine since the plants began producing fruit. He and his daughter started the winery in 1994.

Holy-Field's grape varieties are chosen to account for the fact that the terrain in Basehor is different from that in Bordeaux, for one.

All the vines are either native American or French hybrid varieties, Michelle Meyer said, developed to take to the local soil. For example, instead of growing Chardonnay grapes, Holy-Field cultivates Chardonel. Other varieties include Seyval, Vignoles, Chambourcin and Cynthiana.

Holy-Field also bottles its own blends like Racy Red, a name inspired by the nearby Kansas Speedway, and Tailgate White. Prices range from $8 to $16 per bottle.

Summertime jazz series-goers pay $5 for the music. Cook's BBQ of Lawrence sells a la carte barbecue and desserts. Those wanting wine with their dinner can try about 15 varieties of Holy-Field wine and purchase a bottle of their favorite in the tasting room and gift shop.

Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery is located at U.S. Highway 24-40 and 158th Street -- once called Holyfield Road -- on the west edge of Basehor.

For more information or directions, call the winery at (913) 724-9463 or visit the Holy-Field Web site at www.holyfieldwinery.com.

This summer's last jazz events will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and July 22. The winery is open every day, and party reservations and vineyard tours are available by appointment.

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