As a wine enthusiast, you may be on the hunt for specific grape varietals to try out. Grape varietals can be very culturally specific to some areas due to climate and soil.
For Mississippi, Muscadine grapes are their top priority for wine blends due to their harsh heated climate. If you are looking to check Muscadine wines off your list by visiting an area that has a cultural significance with this varietal, Mississippi is the state for you.
The History of Wine in Mississippi
Mississippi’s history with wine has been difficult since before the national prohibition era, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. In fact, manufacturing and selling alcohol were prohibited in Mississippi from 1907 to 1966.
The Mississippi Delta is the only AVA (American Viticulture Area) in the entire state of Mississippi. Dry counties count for almost half of all counties in the state of Mississippi. The viticultural area is small due to its humid, subtropical climate, which does not work well for growing many varietals other than Muscadine.
Because of this, the small wine industry and culture is dominated by Muscadine wines and old south feels.
You may or may not have heard of Muscadine grapes, as they are not often used in the wine world. Muscadine grapes are actually indigenous to America, unlike most grapes used for wine, which come from Mediterranean regions. Muscadine grapes are resistant to pests and diseases, so when growing the use of pesticides is preventable.
Throughout the southern United States area, you can find Muscadine grapes growing because they thrive in hot, humid climates. Muscadines are the only grape varietal that can grow in these harsh, warm conditions, making it the perfect grape for Mississippi winemakers to use.
Every wine drinker can find at least one Muscadine wine that suits their taste buds. They can come in white, red, and rose and range from harshly dry to very sweet.
Wineries to Visit in Mississippi
As stated earlier, the history of alcohol in Mississippi has largely shaped its wine culture in the present day. This can make it hard for both locals and state visitors to find out where they can visit a winery and/or vineyard. Most vineyards do not sell wine, due to dry counties.
There are currently only three official wineries in the state of Mississippi. Although this is a small amount compared to many other states, there is rich wine, and even mead, to be found at these three locations. Let us dive in.
Old South Winery – Natchez, MS
In 1979, Scott Galbreath Jr and his wife, Eden, founded Old South Winery. The creation of this winery was inspired by Galbreath’s teenage years, helping his grandmother make wine in a property just across the street from the winery’s present location.
Old South specializes in Muscadine wines. The winery chooses not to age their wines in wooden barrels, instead using stainless steel, so they can keep as sweet and fruity of a taste as possible.
Curious to know what their driest wine is? It’s their signature Dry Noble, a dusty dry red wine without a drop of sugar. It may not be particularly sweet like their other wines, but it still has a heavy, fruit driven taste due to Old South’s aging process choices.
Old South Winery is a local winery that provides guests with a sense of Mississippi’s old south culture. The winery offers short, informative tours, giving you a rich sense of the wine making process and history of the establishment.
Old South has a small, but cozy tasting room where a variety of wines can be sampled, but that is not all. In the tasting room, guests will be greeted by all kinds of Muscadine grape products such as jelly and even hot sauce, which are available for tasting and purchase.
Old South Winery is the perfect place for a small visit filled with rich wine.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm
What To Do While In Natchez, MS
Natchez. Mississippi is a small Mississippi River town with over 300 years of history. In this town, you can find walking trails, a vibrant nightlife, historic homes and churches, and so much more. Just like Old South Winery gives you a taste of old south Mississippi, the entire town will immerse you in an experience that accompanies it.
Did you grab a bottle to go from Old South and want to make plans to picnic? Well, Natchez State Park is the place for you. Enjoy your food and while having various views of the Mississippi River as well as houses that were once occupied by millionaires that are now open for tours.
If you enjoy live events, Natchez has a plethora year round! Yoga classes, cycling events, karaoke nights and more are offered around town. Live music is a staple in the town, with an event practically every week. They even have a special event called Bigfoot Birthday Bash for anyone interested in legends. To see events happening in Natchez, click here.
Marcella’s Winery LLC – Columbus, MS
Marcella’s Winery LLC, founded by Jimmy and Elaine Baswell, opened its doors to the public in September 2020. It is an extremely young winery that is focused on building its community.
The Baswell’s took on the winery as a dream come true retirement project, that has so far blossomed. Here’s the kicker, the winery and vineyard are run from the couple’s property, which without a doubt gives anyone’s visit there a home feel.
Guests can try a variety of Muscadine wines overlooking the backyard vineyard on the long wrap around porch, which can be decorated for many occasions and various weather conditions. Whether a small or large group, Marcella’s is ready to accommodate all.
Live music is the focal point for events on the property, as the open porch sets the perfect setting for friends and family to enjoy wine tastings, food, and smooth sounds. Recently, the winery has expanded to blueberry wines and kicked off its very first Blueberry Festival. They plan to have peach varietals available in the next few years.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 8 pm
What To Do While In Columbus, MS
Columbus, Mississippi has many historical buildings, landmarks, and parks. The biggest attraction to the town, is the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Here you can enjoy a trail of shops, museums, and more along the waterway as well as partake in outdoor activities such as fishing, water sports, and simple boating.
If you are looking for a romantic boating experience accompanied by the wine of Marcella’s Winery LLC, this would be the perfect site for you. At every two to three days, the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market is up and running for locals and guests to buy fresh and local produce. Columbus hosts annual festivals as well as an annual Christmas Day Parade.
To see events happening in Columbus, click here
Queen’s Reward Meadery – Tupelo, MS
Queen’s Reward Meadery is the first Meadery in Mississippi, founded by Jeri and Geoff Carter. As a fairly young company, Queen’s Reward focuses on sustainable production and bringing the rich history of mead to the small wine culture of Mississippi.
If you are unfamiliar with Mead, it is actually civilization’s oldest alcoholic beverage, dating back to 7,000 BC. Mead can be put into its own category, or in this case, be associated with wine as it goes through the same process of making, all the way down to using the same yeast.
The Carter’s in the beginning did not even know they were making mead, they believed they were making a special honey wine, which it can be categorized as such.
Queen’s Reward produces small batches of artisan wines (mead) made of 100% Mississippi Honey. For a complimentary combination of pure Riesling grapes and Honey, try out their Delta Gold. The tartness of the Riesling grapes slightly offsets the sweetness of the honey. Floral and apple aromas pair with notes of pear, peach, and apricot flavors.
Guests can enjoy any of the lovely mead selections in a honeycomb themed tasting room that is good for both family and friend get togethers as well as romantic date nights. The meadery also has yard space that is ideal for games and lounging outdoors.
If you are looking to get a taste of local Mississippi food, Queen’s Reward Meadery also partners with local food trucks.
Hours of Operation:
- Tuesday & Wednesday 10 am – 8 pm
- Thursday – Saturday 10 am – 10 pm
What To Do While In Tupelo, MS
Visiting Queen’s Rewards Meadery means visiting the city of Tupelo, the birthplace of American music legend Elvis Presley. For any wine/mead enthusiast who also has a passion for golf, Tupelo has got you covered.
There are five beautiful golf courses one can choose from to enjoy their time. As far as live events go, the city has many to offer such as karaoke nights, their own Chilifest, and city parties. As the birthplace of Elvis, of course they also offer a plethora of live music events. You will not be disappointed with a selection of artists to choose from.
To see events happening in Tupelo, click here.
Tips For Visiting Small Wineries
If you are planning ahead, it is always good to make reservations for a winery just in case, This will help both you and the winery be on notice. Old South Winery, Marcella’s Winery LLC, and Queen’s Reward Meadery are not incredibly huge spaces.
If you are looking to visit any of these three places you should keep that in mind. For a group of 4 or more it is advised to make reservations ahead of time if visiting.
If you are not sure what to wear when you visit, you can always scroll through the social media accounts of the wineries to see what previous guests have worn. Old South and Marcella’s both give off more small town home feels therefore casual is definitely a go to for these two places.
Not casual as in you are about to go for a run, but casual like you are going to dinner with friends and family at a local spot and want to look a little more presentable. For Queen’s Reward Meadery, casual is acceptable, but if you want to dress up just a tad bit more, you will not feel out of place doing so.
Wine tasting rooms are one of the few places where spitting is not frowned upon. If you already plan to visit multiple wineries for the day or plan on tasting multiple wines and do not want to fully dilute your palette, spitting is encouraged. Spitting will help you pace yourself through the wine tasting process.
Buying A Bottle
Buying a bottle is not required of you for any visit, but it is a good way to show support to these small, local businesses. Also, buying a bottle will allow you to have a physical memory of your visit.
Muscadine is not a grape often used for wines, which makes it the perfect grape to ask questions about. Asking questions and gaining knowledge of this grape will better help you figure out what blends you might like as well as help you understand the Mississippi wine scene better.
The perks of visiting smaller, local wineries is that you have a very good chance in running into the founders or owners. If this happens, do not be afraid to ask questions if you have any. Many will be willing to answer all. Remember, a part of the wine tasting experience is becoming more educated about wine.
Mississippi’s wine industry, although small, is still rich in flavor and culture. These small businesses, seek to give their visitors bits of the south with experiences still unique to each business.
These wineries are definitely casual friendly, which makes them perfect for those looking to sample wine without too much background knowledge or pressure riding on them.
With the limitations of the Mississippi area both with alcohol bans and climate, wineries do come with challenges, but it also gives them the room to experiment with various methods outside of grape based wines specifically.
Mississippi could very well have the potential to become a state with a rich local wine industry if more were to venture into the culture.