Over 40 people attended the MoKan Ag Tour which was held prior to the NAMA Boot Camp on Tuesday, August 21.
The tour began with a trip to Schweizers Orchards in St. Joseph, MO. The group listened to the Schweizer’s discuss their farming practices, how they handled a hard freeze over Easter that left them with no apples and peaches, and how life at the orchard works. Attendees were then given a tour of the orchard via hayride to view the different crops of pumpkins, apples, Christmas trees and peaches, as well as vegetable crops and other fruit crops. At the end of the tour, attendees were able to get a close-up of blackberry and raspberry crops and sample the fruit straight from the vines.
The next stop on the tour was the Shatto Milk Company. Mr. Shatto’s enthusiasm for being a dairy farmer flowed over to the attendees as he discussed how their milk is made, including how to make the different flavors of milk they carry. Milk flavors come in root beer, orange cream, banana, strawberry and chocolate. According to Shatto, they had to cut back on making the root beer flavor because with the extremely hot summer temperatures, the cows don’t produce enough milk to keep up with the demand for the flavored milk. In addition, Shatto discussed how they clean their bottles for re-use and how they began marketing their milk. Attendees were also allowed in the barn where they learned how to milk a cow with their hands as well as how the milking machines worked.
From milk to wine. The next stop on the tour was to Jowler Creek Vineyard and Winery. Jason and Colleen Gerke (MoKan NAMA members), welcomed the group with wine and discussed their vineyard, what kinds of grapes are grown and how the grapes are harvested. The Gerkes started out growing Norton vines which have shown consistency in producing a premium, red, full-bodied wine that’s loaded with tannins, similar to a wine produced in California or France. They also grow a grape variety called Vignoles as well as a third variety called Traminette, and a fourth variety known well in the old world wine regions of France called Cabernet Franc. Jason and Colleen continue to experiment with different varietals in order to perfect their wine styles. After viewing the vineyards, the group was taken to their winery where the Gerkes discussed the process of making wine. Their wines can be found in fine restaurants and wine shops around the Kansas City area. After the tour, the Gerkes treated attendees to a wine tasting of several different wines.
Special thanks to the MoKan chapter for hosting this successful event!