Through the Grapevine
Missouri’s grape and wine industry is an economics engine.
issouri’s bourgeoning grape and wine industry is an economic engine for its product (wine) and its spinoff business (wine tourism). At Mizzou, the Grape and Wine Institute’s research and extension activities supply knowledge to grape growers and winemakers, and faculty members also educate a much-needed workforce. A Missouri wine tax supports the $850,000 a year program.
Most of Missouri’s wineries are small. Wineries producing fewer than 5,000 gallons accounted for 81 percent of all Missouri wineries. The five largest — St. James, Stone Hill, Les Bourgeois, Crown Valley, Augusta Mount Pleasant — produced 81 percent of Missouri wine in 2009.
The state grape is the historic Norton. In 1873, the International Wine Competition in Vienna, Austria, declared Missouri Norton wine Best Red of All Nations. The wine was a favorite of President Ulysses S. Grant. Recently, Mizzou researchers discovered that Norton wine contains up to twice as much of the beneficial chemical resveratrol as other varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine and Dash
MU’s first agriculture dean was viticulturist George Swallow. In the late 1800s, the White Campus area was a 40-acre vineyard. The winemaking took place in Academic Hall. Students’ raids of the winery were legendary, as was the vineyard itself, which inspired a poem by Eugene Field, author of “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.”
About 14,000 people are employed in Missouri’s wine industry. Wine grapes grow on roughly 1,700 Missouri acres.
In 1927, gridiron guru Don Faurot, BS Ag ’25, MA ’27, completed his master’s thesis, “Influence upon production of the different methods of training grapes.” In 1928, he co-wrote the research bulletin, “A comparison of four systems of pruning grapes.”