Kansas City is known for many things: world renowned award winning BBQ joints, the Plaza lights at Christmas, a winning MLS team, and the Chiefs and Royals (who both try real hard). A lessor known fact about KC is that it is possible to find quality wine and knowledgeable wine people within and outside the city. Take a short jaunt with me as we move from the home to the depths of the city and the surrounding areas. Think of it as a KC wine crawl, if you will, through the eyes of (novice) two year residents.
Some of our greatest wine adventures have taken place within the confines of our four little walls. If you are like us and live in the outskirts; larger establishments such as Lukas Liquor, MDL, and Trader Joe’s can help transport you to the far reaches of the wine world through their extensive selection. Of course, if you really want to branch out, check out their local sections and try a Missouri or Kansas wine; allowing you to try something new and support a local business. There are a myriad of smaller, specialty shops and (much) larger retail shops but these are the three that we frequent the most, leading to some glorious “Wine Down Wednesdays”, Saturday afternoon tastings, or “Wow, What a Day at Work, Oh Look I’m at Trader Joe’s for Cheese Curls and there is the Wine”. Get some cheese or some meat and you have yourself an event. Here is a peek into the window of our home where Katy is to the kitchen what Mr. Roper is to Three’s Company:
At a Winery
It’s not quite San Francisco when it comes to nearby vineyard destinations, but you may be surprised at the number places producing great Missouri wine. As much as it pains me to say it as a true Missourian, there are even a few Kansas wineries that are worth a trip:
Exhibit A: Van Till Winery in Excelsior, MO serves some of the best Chardonel you can find and you can pair it with a pizza from their outdoor wood fire oven.
Exhibit B: Jowler Creek Winery near Platte City, MO serves multiple award winning wines all grown using some of the most sustainable practices in the state.
Exhibit C: Somerset Winery in Paola, KS has, in our opinion, the best wine from Kansas and the owners host many events and show an enthusiasm that is contagious.
At the Plaza
With the beautiful fountains and architecture, glitzy shops, and over-abundance of restaurants, you don’t have to look far for wine on the Plaza. The trick is finding good wine that don’t require you to take a second mortgage out on your house. Our two absolute favorite places on the Plaza are Cooper’s Hawk and the Coal Vine.
Cooper’s Hawk is a wine bar by definition with more than enough options for the Kansas City wine lover (or tourist). The line of Cooper’s Hawk private label is delightful and affordable; and unless the waiter was just giving me the business, they are vertically integrated in the entire process of vineyard to bottle (many private label brands will outsource the growing and winemaking and slap a label on it when it’s finished). Not to mention they use the coolest aerators in the history of wine aeration (seen in photo, between Katy and Leslie).
Coal Vine holds a special place in my heart because they have a) good wine b)exquisite Italy-esque brick oven pizza c) they get in the Christmas spirit. When the lights come on at the Plaza, Coal Vines decorates the place up and puts the sounds of the season on loop.
I will admit we don’t spend as much time downtown as some of the city-dwellers. But if you find yourself in the vicinity with a hankerin’ for some vino, head over to the Cellar Rat or Amigoni. We have been to the Cellar Rat and it’s a quaint rehabbed building with a vast selection and knowledgeable staff. They were doing a tasting class one day and it was clear they have loyal customers. The vibe at wine shops in downtown areas is impossible to capture in the suburbs or at a megastore.
Amigoni is one of the first urban wineries that I have ever heard of. What makes Amigoni stand out is not only the unique concept, but that they grow Cabernet Sauvingon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec right here in Missouri. If you have followed the blog with any consistency (and my in-depth looks at hybrid varietals), you know that vintners in Missouri simply don’t try to grow vinifera. Amigoni does and they claim to have success with it. I’m sure this unusually bitter winter has been a test for them so it will be interesting to see the shape of the vines this spring and the resulting 2014 vintage. There are no pics because this is one stop on our KC wine wish list that we never made it to.