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Celebrating Kansas by Car – Wine Tour

The Liquid Art Winery in Manhattan, Kan., hosts an annual watermelon festival, complete with a melon-eating contest. Winery co-owner Dani Tegtmeier (second from right) shows off her chops. Stephanie is pictured with her husband, Don, with the Watermelon Crawl booth.

By Stephanie Bergmann, Independent Living Sales & Marketing Director

You don’t have to travel to Napa Valley to take a great wine tour. Kansas is now home to several beautiful vineyards that offer tastings and events that are fun and affordable. Many also have patios that allow you to social distance while enjoying the scenery on a summer evening.

As part of my “research,” I taste-tested a few wineries myself to make sure they’re worth your travel time. (You’re welcome!) My family’s first stop was Grace Hill Winery in Whitewater, less than 30 minutes from Wichita. For $5 per person, we sampled six wines with memorable names like Dodging Tornadoes and Peckerhead Red. I can assure you, we got our money’s worth! Our hostess was entertaining and generous with her pours. Luckily, my husband played the role of designated driver.

It takes less than 30 minutes to get to Whitewater’s Grace Hill Winery, which makes it a perfect destination for a day trip.

Wyldewood Cellars, near my hometown of Mulvane, offers customers up to five free samples of wine or a “tasting experience” when you book ahead for a Friday or Saturday night. For $25 a person, small groups get to tour the wine production facility and then enjoy appetizers and dessert paired with several wines. For the health conscious, Wyldewood touts its elderberry products as a way to boost your immune system.

If you’re willing to drive a little farther, Liquid Art Winery & Estate in Manhattan provides a stunning view of the Flint Hills. Perched high atop a hill, the vineyard looks like it’s straight out of Tuscany. Its tiered patio includes a bocce ball court and hosts special events throughout the year. My friends and I drove up for a watermelon wine festival, complete with an eating contest and long-distance seed-spitting!

The young couple who owns Liquid Art also has an incredible story to share. David and Danielle Tegtmeier opened the winery in 2016, and a couple years later, David was blinded in an accident. They released a series of wines inspired by the lessons they learned from that hardship: Humility, Perseverance, Humor, and Hope.

Many more vineyards can be found in northeast Kansas, and some offer a bed-and-breakfast experience. Whether you like wine a little or a lot, your chance to sample the local vintage has never been better!

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