Missouri spirits industry tour will be Oct. 13

Openings remain for the second annual University of Missouri Extension White Oak, Whiskey and Wine Tour on Oct. 13. The all-day tour toasts the state’s unique contributions to the wine and whiskey industries.

MU Extension forester Hank Stelzer and MU Extension viticulturist Dean Volenberg lead the mid-Missouri tour, which starts in a white oak forest. Missouri’s white oak is used in more than 1.5 million barrels each year. These barrels go to some of the most prestigious wineries and distilleries in America and abroad, says Stelzer, who will talk about Missouri’s white oak forests and how to sustainably manage them.

Volenberg will tell of Missouri’s growing grape and wine industry. Missouri wineries produce 7 percent of the country’s wine on 1,700 acres of grapes. The $1.76 billion Missouri wine industry employs nearly 15,000 people, according to the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.

The tour by coach bus highlights two cooperages in the Randolph County town of Higbee. Attendees will see how white oak logs are made ready for the cooper. The Oak Cooperage, owned by Silver Oaks Cellars of Oakville, California, produces barrels for the company’s Napa Valley winery. Barrel 53 Cooperage produces barrels for distilleries across the region. Lunch will be provided at The Oak Cooperage.

The tour ends at the Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery near Rocheport. There, attendees will see the barreling of wine and learn how the white oak barrel imparts its unique traits to a wine’s character. Distillers from Wood Hat Spirits of New Florence will tell how to create unique distilled spirits using Missouri products.

The tour begins 8:30 a.m. Oct. 13 at Hilton Garden Inn in Columbia next to Bass Pro Shop and returns to the hotel around 4:30 p.m. Cost is $75 per person or $125 per couple and includes transportation, lunch and wine and spirits tasting for those of legal age. Registration deadline is Sept. 30. Cancelations will be accepted until Sept. 30 less a $25 nonrefundable fee.

A block of rooms has been reserved until Sept. 21 at the Hilton Garden Inn. Call the hotel at 573-814-5464 to reserve a room.

Seating is limited to 56 people. To register, go to extension2.missouri.edu/events/white-oak-whiskey-and-wine-tour.