Long before Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie amazed the citizens of Altus with their TV show The Simple Life, this small town gained attention as the wine capital of the state.
Since the 1880s, Altus (two hours west of Little Rock) has been Arkansas's foremost wine-producing region. The toasting town boasts two large wineries and a few smaller ones, where visitors can sample the fruit of this community's labor.
"If I can't sleep, I get a glass of that," says Dennis Wiederkehr, pointing to a bottle in his family's wine shop. His bedtime elixir, the Muscat Di Tanta Maria ($11), is bottled and sold at this 124-year-old winery, Wiederkehr Wine Cellars.
Atop St. Mary's Mountain in Altus, the winery has an observation tower, restaurant, and 200-acre vineyard. Guests get a complimentary tour, which includes a walk through the cellars and free tastings of the award-winning vino. (479) 468-9463 or www.wiederkehr
Down the road (Exit 41 off I-40), visitors find Post Familie Vineyards, which ranks as one of the largest wineries in the country. This venue rightfully flaunts its best sellers like badges of honor. Novice and seasoned wine connoisseurs love the Ives Noir (winner of a gold medal). You can take home a bottle for just $6.50. (479) 468-2741 or www.postfamilie.com
Pop the cork again at Mount Bethel Winery, run by Post family members Eugene and Peggy Post. This small venue produces delicious fruit wines. The wild plum selection pairs well with Asian food. It's like summertime in a bottle. (479) 468-2444 or www.mountbethel.comThis article is from the July 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.