Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville continues to feature local food (and wine in this case) partners. Boonville’s marketing manager, Adam Rentchler, shares the experience that he and Chef Jason Martin recently had while touring the Les Bourgeois production facility.
As part of our continued emphasis on local foods, we are touring the farms and facilities of some of our local food and drink partners. Even though fall grape harvest is the more natural time to think about wine, Chef Jason Martin and I couldn’t help but think of Les Bourgeois Vineyards (and the beautiful outdoor A-Frame) with spring in full force. Les Bourgeois was kind enough to invite us over to Rocheport for a tour of their new production facility.
Jason and I arrived at the Les Bourgeois tasting room and production facility, located at the interchange of I-70 and Highway BB, just to the east of the Missouri River bridge. We were greeted by Rachel Mills, the marketing director at Les Bourgeois, and Syrah, a white cat who guards the gift shop (as seen if you look very closely at the bottom of the door in the gift shop photo). Rachel introduced herself and pointed out the new production facility, which opened in late 2010. It sits next to gift shop & tasting room and is prominent on the south side of I-70. Those of you that frequent the area may have noticed its construction over the last few years.
We started our tour in the tasting room and gift shop, which are housed in a building that was formerly Pete’s Café in the 1960s. The gift shop has a lot of wood features and is pretty inviting. Gift baskets and such line the perimeter, and a tasting bar and large product rack sit on the left side of the room. Behind the tasting room is a large vacant room, which used to house the bottling line before the new facility opened.
According to Rachel, Les Bourgeois plans to expand the tasting room into that area sometime in 2013. They also plan on opening a café to accompany the tasting room and gift shop. Jason asked Rachel how they expect the café to compare to their A-Frame, which sits on a bluff top over the Missouri River, and the Blufftop Bistro. “The café will be more focused on wine, local food, and dessert pairings,” explained Rachel. “We think the two will be very complementary. The café will be more casual than the Blufftop Bistro, and it should provide a great place for people traveling through Rocheport on I-70 to stop for a delicious meal.” The current plans for the café will incorporate the large patio area that sits on the north side of the building. Jason and I were pretty impressed by the plans. I think it’s great that they are finding a way to repurpose a long-standing building into a fun place to eat and visit.
From the tasting room, we went downstairs to the cellar, where some of the wines are stored in barrels. According to Rachel, the amount of barrel aging required varies a lot depending on the varietal of wine. The cellar contained an impressive number of barrels, stacked three high, about eight deep, and in three double rows. Most of the barrels are produced locally by A&K Cooperage in Higbee, MO. A nice wood aroma fills the cellar room.
After we finished touring the cellar room, Rachel showed us the impressive new production facility. We entered on the west side of the building, which houses the tanks used for winemaking. The tanks are as tall as 30 feet with diameters as large as 15 feet. According to Rachel, the tanks range between 6,000 gallons and 12,000 gallons in volume. Central Missourians love their local wine, and Les Bourgeois built this new facility with that demand in mind.
Jason and I walked along the catwalk over the tanks (note: not a great idea if you’re leery of heights like me), and the view is even more impressive from above. Les Bourgeois built the new production facility with windows to allow for natural light, which was a nice touch. The facility is big, but the way it’s set up doesn’t make anything feel mass-produced or cold. We then crossed over into the bottling and storage room. The bottling line was not in use during our tour, but we could see how the bottles would be guided from the filling station to the corking station. Behind the bottling line is a large room where Les Bourgeois stacked the bottled wine for shipping. Inventories vary greatly depending on the time of year, Rachel informed us.
Before our tour was finished, Rachel shared one more interesting bit of information about the annual Les Bourgeois collector’s series wine release party & art show. Each year, Les Bourgeois invites local artists to submit pieces for the collector’s series release. They select three winners each year, and each winner has their art grace the label for that year’s vintage of one of the collector’s series wine releases. Rachel showed us the most recent winners:
- “Dewdrop” by Jacquiline Leonard is on the label for the Vidal Blanc 2010, which is a crisp, dry white wine with a hint of lemon grass in the middle of the palette. The wine features a very smooth finish.
- “Burr Oak Fall” by Jenny McGee is another winning artwork. It can be seen on the label for the Armerican Red, which is a blended red wine featuring 2009 Zinfandel , 2010 Merlot, and 2009 Syrah varietals. The American Red has a medium body with a small amount of tannins and spice. The wine is very food-friendly.
- “Ruckus” by Bill Manion is the third winning piece. You can see it on the 2010 Vignoles Traminette, which is a sweeter white wine featuring hints of apricot and honeydew.
We thanked Rachel for her time in showing us around. It was definitely helpful for Jason and I to see where our most popular wines are produced, and we’re proud to feature wine from a vineyard located only 15 miles from Isle of Capri. Les Bourgeois Riverboat Red is our most popular wine at Farraddays’, and Jason features a lot of other Les Bourgeois wines both on our wine list and in our recipes.
If you’re interested in learning more about all the Les Bourgeois has to offer, you can visit their website at missouriwine.com.