Today’s adventure was finally getting a chance to tour my friend Stephen and his wife Janine’s Vineyards and Winery, Four Horses & a Dog. Located just off Salem Road in Excelsior Springs, the Stubbs have done a beautiful job at making the experience warm and inviting!
Their goal is to provide an environment to come and feel relaxed. They’ve had their tasting room open since April and it has proven to be quite popular, even producing some regulars among the locals in the Excelsior Springs community. Tastings are $5, but if a bottle of wine is purchased, they are free!
Co-owner Janine Stubbs explained the story of the name came from the fact that at the time, they had Four Horses and a Dog. The dog is what used to put the horses to sleep each night! They are featured on the winery’s labels, but in reality, the Vineyards now only have two horses.
Stephen explained that harvest would occur about the middle of August, that it would depend entirely on the rain and sun amounts between now and then. There’s a way to measure when the right time is to harvest known as “brix.” Twenty-one Brix is what they prefer to wait for before beginning their harvest.
Luckily, they don’t have to do it alone! In fact, they have many volunteers who offer their time and energy to come in and help with the gathering efforts! Each of them receives a t-shirt and bottle of wine!
Stephen explained too that there were many college students giving their time to help tend the Vineyards throughout the year. One student has been helping at their Vineyards since he was 12 and is now a sophomore in college at K-State!
The distillery portion of the business is quite interesting as well! There’s a process that I don’t fully understand, but has to be collected and processed over time in order to properly give it the taste everyone expects in a good wine. They put their harvest in the bins and drain the wine until it’s two inches from the bottom and throw out what is known as “lees” or the junk you don’t want (stems, leaves, etc.). There’s a waiting timeframe and then you do it again, around four times to produce the wine they need to bottle and distribute.
Missouri is known for its sweet red wines, but Four Horses produces more dry and white wines with their grapes. They’ve traveled to Vineyards in Italy and California, bringing back some of the wonderful things they saw.
There’s a drink called “Luther’s Revenge” which has come to be named this because it is harvested with the grapes from the Lutheran Church, and is made for serving communion there!
They have a rare Chancellor that is a dry selection with hints of berries and peppers that you will want to be sure to ask for! They also offer a sangria that they don’t sell to take home but instead uses it to hook and reel you in to come back again!