Updated December 4, 2023
Calling all wine enthusiasts! I have a treat for you.
After traveling extensively across the Sunflower State, I realized I had explored several Kansas wineries. I’ve compiled a guide for your reference if you’re searching for the perfect tasting merlot or flavorful fruit wine.
WINERIES & TASTING ROOMS
EMPTY NESTER’S WINERY: Lecompton
Aside from hosting history seekers, Lecompton is home to several businesses, including Empty Nester’s Winery (338 Elmore St.). Owned and operated by a husband and wife team, they serve a variety of fruit wines. Surprisingly, the wines didn’t taste as sweet as I expected.
Opened in January 2021, visitors can choose from four dry wines and 12 semi-sweet wines for a tasting flight. Ask for a wine slushy!
When the owners are not busy making wine or socializing with customers, they also make preserves, jams, and jellies available for sale in the tasting room.
Empty Nester’s Winery focuses on quality wine and excellent customer service. They host game night on Thursdays and invite a food truck to park out front on occasion.
Z&M TWISTED WINERY & TASTING ROOM: Leavenworth
Everywhere you turn in Leavenworth, a business or group proudly supports the military. Z&M Twisted Vineyard & Tasting Room (620 Cherokee St.) is no different. They partner with Homegrown by Heroes and Farmer Veteran Coalition Kansas to produce locally sourced wine.
The veteran-owned and operated winery’s tasting room is centrally located downtown across from Hay Market Square. They are open for wine tastings and retail shopping. I chose a seat at the tasting room counter and ordered the Tasting of the Month, a flight of five selections.
A flight lets you discover a wine you will appreciate the most – take home a bottle for your personal collection. They also sell jarred jellies and gifts for all of the wine lovers in your life.
Plan a visit to the tasting room by viewing their hours here. Call ahead to book group visits and reserve space for events.
CRESCENT MOON WINERY: Lawrence
Operated by husband and wife duo, Keith and Cheryl Hand, Crescent Moon Winery (15930 246th st.) opened in 2011 offering visitors 20 acres of picturesque vineyard views while they enjoy sipping dry to semi-sweet wine.
The downtown tasting room (732 Massachusetts St.) serves as a convenient location for shoppers in the area to drop in for a single glass or flight. On occasion, live music is performed for patrons.
ROWE RIDGE VINEYARD & WINERY: Kansas City
As a Kansan, I’m still amazed that the state produces incredible wine considering the extreme weather we often experience in the Midwest. I was impressed with Rowe Ridge Vineyard & Winery (11255 Leavenworth Rd), a five-minute drive from my lunch stop. The tasting room offers vino enthusiasts a chance to sample flights of a large selection of wines (6 wines + logo glass $8).
Located on 10 acres, the tasting room is open Thursday-Sunday from 12 pm-5 pm or by appointment. Marc and Pame Rowe have operated the vineyard since 2005 and depend on volunteers to help them harvest grapes from over 3,000 vines.
The first vineyard in Wyandotte County produces 9 varieties of hybrid and American native grapes.
I recommend bringing someone with you to the tasting room, and each purchases a different flight so you can sample all of the wines. When in doubt, choose the dry to semi-sweet flight. Bottles range from $17-$18, and fruit wine bottles are $16. View the current list of wines available here.
GRACE HILL WINERY: Whitewater
There’s no better time to enjoy Grace Hill Winery in Whitewater, Kansas (6310 S. Grace Hill Rd) than during fall. The weather is delightful for an impromptu charcuterie and tasting experience from the top deck.
We enjoyed Chloe’s Cuvée, a semi-sweet white, and then sipped in Beach Day Rosé. We brought snacks since it was my birthday, but they do sell goodies to nibble on. When inside the tasting room, use a map pin to mark your hometown, and don’t forget to say hi to the winery’s cute cat.
An indoor tasting room also serves about a dozen wine drinkers at a time. Bottles of wine are available for purchase. I recommend arriving when they open on the weekend to avoid waiting to be served, or you can book a tasting here. View their food and wine menu here.
There is always a fun event planned at the winery. Check this link to see what upcoming events are open to the public.
WANDERING VINE AT THE CASTLE: Shawnee
What could feel more magical than drinking fine wine inside a castle? Visit Wandering Vine at the Castle (12401 Johnson Dr.) to enjoy a delicious chef-prepared meal and a wine flight. Open Wednesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, the castle welcomes locals and tourists seeking a sophisticated dining experience.
The building has been several businesses over the years but has always remained a memorable landmark on the edge of downtown Shawnee.
It’s owned by Kansas City residents who have enlisted the expertise of an executive chef and sommelier to celebrate food and drink. One step inside the castle, and you are transported to an exceptionally beautiful setting.
Reservations are highly recommended; however, I stopped by the castle for a wine flight during the late afternoon between meal times and was served swiftly in the bar area. I chose Reds of the World, a flight that included three pours from Portugal, Washington, and Spain ($16). Premium wine flights are $26. I loved them all.
KC WINE CO.: Olathe
KC Wine Co. (13875 S. Gardner Rd.) is not just a tasting room next to a vineyard. It’s a winery destination located on five acres with a multitude of things for visitors to enjoy. You’ll love the famous wine slashes, traditional wines, and hard ciders.
The owners wanted guests to use all of the senses while visiting. Whether you’re noting the smell of fresh cedar inside the red barn or sitting on a swing and enjoying the view with a wine glass, you’ll get the full experience.
STONE PILLAR VINEYARD & WINERY: Olathe
Stone Pillar Vineyard & Winery (11000 S. Woodland St.) is nestled in the heart of Olathe. Well, technically, Olathe built itself up around the vineyard. It seems more like Olathe built itself around the vineyard, given that the property’s deed from 1865 hangs framed on the wall. The five-generations, family-owned vineyard, and winery produced wine, hard ciders, and wine slushies.
ROSEWOOD CELLAR: Great Bend
Rosewood Wine Cellar (1901 Lakin Ave.) is a shop devoted to vino enthusiasts. Of course, you’ll find a wine-tasting bar (free samples!) and rows of handcrafted wine bottles for sale, but the store is much more than another retail store.
Rosewood Wine Cellar’s products are made or harvested by client-employees with disabilities. Each time you purchase at the shop, you sustain employment for them.
The staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about the award-winning wines. They carry two dozen wine varieties grown a short drive west of town.
PAISLEY PEAR WINE BAR, BISTRO and MARKET: Hays
Another delightful space to relax and unwind after exploring downtown Hays is Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro and Market (1100 Main St). Established in 2017, the wine bar has been serving beverage flights and wine slushies since 2017.
I chose a $12 wine flight of dry varieties during my visit from a long list of options. My favorite selection was a cabernet sauvignon from Skyfall Vineyards. Thankfully, my server was kind enough to provide me with cheese samples from Alma Creamery, which paired well with all of my choices.
SHILOH VINEYARD & WINERY: WaKeeney
Drive west from WaKeeney on KS I-70 to Exit 120 to M Road to get to Shiloh Vineyard & Winery (17079 M Rd.). I was told it was a popular stop for visitors searching for a relaxing place to sip wine and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. A family-owned winery founded in 2008 by the Johnstons, it features a tasting room and event space and is an official Harvest Host for overnight RV guests.
A popular venue for hosting weddings, receptions, and private parties, the barn below is available for rental. A nearby patio attached to the tasting room provides outdoor seating.
The winery and event spaces stay consistently busy, but they always welcome wine lovers who show up to sample wine.
Visit the tasting room to enjoy the winery’s long list of varieties, order a wine flight or ask about the Wine of the Week. I would highly recommend asking for a guided tour to fully appreciate the winery. Visitors can schedule an informative tour by appointment.
Die-hard wine enthusiasts will appreciate that a mapped wine trail is made especially for them. The Kaw Valley Wine Trail includes 16 Kansas wineries located in the northeastern part of the state. You should also check the Kansas Wineries map by KC Wine Road.
To get a glimpse of all of the wineries in the state, use Kansas Tourism’s interactive map to plot your course.
Can’t make it to a winery? Tune into the KNSS 98.7FM radio show, “The Good Life” with Guy Bower on Saturdays from 12 pm-1 pm, a Wichita-based wine expert who chats with guests about food and wine.
Enjoy the adventure and cheers!