On the Last Hill in Missouri before the Gulf

The Wine Writing Class stopped at to see Jerry Smith at River Ridge Winery near tiny Commerce, Missouri, in the late afternoon and evening yesterday. We compared grape varietal clusters, peered under leaf canopies, and tasted the River Ridge array of wines.  Jerry’s vinifera vineyard on Crowley’s Ridge near his stone and wood home was a highlight. Overlooking the Mississippi there, you can get a feel for the change in land formations in this part of the state: after Commerce, the land levels out and continues in a long, flat sweep to the Gulf of Mexico.

We stopped at Joannie’s Yule Log Cabin as we were driving out and saw her

Jerry Smith of River Ridge Winery with the Wine Country Writing journalism class. Jerry discussed growing vinifera grapes in Missouri on his section of Crowley’s Ridge.

118 decorated Christmas trees–all glowing inside and outside of a log cabin in the woods. Her enthusiasm for her shop was so apparent in the final creative look. The students agree: Jerry and Joannie Smith have created a welcoming oasis at River Ridge.


About ninafurstenau

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau teaches a Food and Wine Writing for the University of Missouri Science and Agriculture Journalism program and the MU School of Journalism School. Her book, Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland was the winner of the MFK Fisher Book Award and Grand Prize Award for culinary/culture writing and designated as a Kansas Notable Book. She has also written Savor Missouri: River Hill Country Food and Wine, celebrating Missouri foodways. Her essay, "And Then There Was Rum Cake," appears in the 2017 anthology, Pie & Whiskey: Writer's Under the Influence of Butter and Booze. Ms. Furstenau was in the Peace Corps in Tunisia from 1984 to 1986 and then began working life as a journalist and publisher/editor of three construction magazines beginning in 1987. Ms. Furstenau and her husband launched and published these magazines and two others until 2001. She was a month-long resident at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, in 2008.
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