Seasons greetings and happy holidays. As 2019 draws to a close and the New Year approaches, we took a look at the past year to take stock of what we've accomplished and experienced.
First and foremost, Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery celebrated its 10th anniversary with a party in April, uniting with friends, wine club members, frequent guests, and the public. We added new Wine Xenos glassware and T-shirts, released new wines, and offered a drawing for a Fence Stile oak barrelhead. We also added new flute glassware for sparkling wine.
What does Wine Xenos mean? Xenos (zee-nohs, rhymes with fructose), is a Greek word that refers to a stranger or guest. When a stranger arrives, a host is xenial and treats them as a guest, extending hospitality to visitors. The spirit of xenos matches the welcoming motto of Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery. We like to say, “Good fences make good neighbors, a Fence Stile makes neighbors, good friends!”
Established in 2009, Fence Stile opened its doors in a modest 600 square-foot tasting room and winery that is located on the south side of the fire pit on the patio. Next door, the current modern tasting room, winery, and wine caves have been in operation since 2015. Over the past decade, we expanded the original six acres of vineyards, which were planted in 2007, to a full ten acres. Here's to the next ten years!
In April 2019, we released Tramonto as a late harvest dry Vidal Blanc craft wine. Read more about this small-batch wine. We also released 2018 NorCyana in July 2019, a Norton aged for 18 months in a bourbon whiskey oak barrel. This wine continues to be a strong seller, bearing characteristics of oak and bourbon in its aroma and taste. Learn more about Norcyana.
We also made some improvements and additions to the estate. We added a water fountain to the pond next to the Tasting Room, creating a water feature that lights up at night. The fountain has been stored for the winter so look for its return in the spring. Behind the scenes, we upgraded our chiller. This upgrade increases our ability to control the quality of wine with fewer additives.
Last spring, we added lighting and light poles (photos below) to the upper terrace of the patio. Other projects included updating the kitchen with new cabinets and tile to make it more functional and attractive. We also added garden beds to the south near the blackberry bushes. We are eager to begin planting in spring so the kitchen has fresh produce grown on the estate. Further, we installed light poles in the parking lot that will cast ample illumination. The light in the parking lot will be handy spring through fall, when we once again expand Tasting Room seasonal hours later in the day from March through November.
We hosted several wine and food events, including a Farm and Market multi-course rosé dinner (photos below) and a benefit dinner for the March of Dimes featuring a guest chef from The Savoy. We also collaborated with The Elms on two wine-pairing dinners to highlight our wines and the food of Elms chef Nash deJesus. We catered food for our growing Wine Club at members-only quarterly wine pickup parties, a birthday party, wedding, bachelorette party, and Vineyard LifeStile Market Day. We also hosted North Kansas City Hospital, Centurions, Lockton, and other groups for private events. Finally, our chef catered a three-course meal paired with Fence Stile wines at Inn on Crescent Lake in Excelsior Springs.
We also hosted an Acoustic Music Series in our Wine Cave over the summer, featuring artists Joy Zimmerman, Bob Morrison, and Laura Lisbeth. Each artist performed solo for an audience in a candle-lit setting with amazing acoustics that proved to be magical and inspiring.
We took a summer field trip with guests on the Excelsior Springs Chamber Trolley to Fair Share Farm in Kearney. Farmers Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri led us on a tour of the farm and their fermentation operations. Speaking of the Chamber Trolley, we're pleased to work with them and other local/regional businesses as part of the Trolley Winery Tour. Visit Fence Stile and other wineries on a 2020 trolley tour!
This year we expanded our network of retail and restaurant partners. Additional locations where you may find Fence Stile wines include The Antler Room, Fox and Pearl, Wind Shift Brewing, Oak and Steel, The Pairing, Bubbles Wine and Spirits, Lukas Liquor - Northland, Happy Hour, and Inn on Crescent Lake. We appreciate our long-term partners including Willow Spring Mercantile, Made in Kansas City, Whole Foods, Grain to Glass, and, of course, The Elms. Check this page for the complete list of locations that carry select Fence Stile wines. Call ahead to determine which wines they carry, or request that they carry your favorite.
We also collaborated with Strange Days Brewing, located in Kansas City's River Market, to produce Over the Fence. This saison beer was made with Chambourcin grape must and pomace from the 2019 harvest. Brewer Damon Arredondo did a fantastic job to marry this Belgian farmhouse ale style with spicy notes to the fruity, peppery character of the wine.
We introduced the Vineyard LifeStile line of salt and sugar scrubs and house-made mustards, jams, and jellies. The VLS line includes notecards, scented candles, and coasters bearing images from Fence Stile wine labels. We plan to continue and expand this brand with sustainable products as we grow. Learn more about the Vineyard LifeStile.
Over the summer, we spent a day with Cat Neville, publisher of Feast magazine and producer of the tasteMAKERS video series. Cat and her crew shot video (photos below) of Vidal Blanc grapes grown on the estate and used to produce many wines of various styles at the winery. The video will be edited and used for an educational video series about Missouri wines and tourism underwritten by the Missouri Wine and Grape Board. Fence Stile was honored to be one of four wineries chosen and featured in this video, due out in 2020.
Becca the goldendoodle (below left) went into semi-retirement. She enjoys lazy days at home and occasional visits to the Tasting Room. Meanwhile, Kai (below right) has been working in her second year as a part-time social greeter. She thinks it is mandatory that all guests pet her. Kai's actual job is to make the rounds and greet guests. We think she has a promising career ahead of her.
Last but not least, we made plenty of new friends this year. Thanks to all of the guests who visited Fence Stile via Barley Bus, KC Limo, and the Chamber Trolley. We also appreciate first-time guests who discovered Fence Stile on their travels, or visited from The Elms, Inn on Crescent Lake, and other local businesses. Of course, we value the support and friendship of our Wine Club members and long-time friends and partners.
Best wishes for the holiday season. We'll see you in 2020!
Brand and events manager, chef and cellar rat Pete Dulin documents wine, food and operations at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery through writing and photography.