Family Tradition and Family Lore
The Post family has been making wine in Arkansas since 1879
Winemaking began many thousands of years ago with most being family operations. Much seems shrouded in old-world traditions.
Examples include using wooden tanks for fermenting, natural cork as the preferred sealer and specially shaped glass bottles. Many wineries were slow to take advantage of new technologies such as stainless-steel tanks, metal twist caps and bag-in-box wines. Post Familie Winery uses these new technologies and more, resulting in greatly improved wine quality.
The Jacob Post family emigrated from the southwest portion of Germany and entered America through Ellis Island in 1872. By 1879 the family had settled in Altus, Ark., and began making wine, which then turned into a thriving business. Several factors promoted the family’s success. When Jacob and Mary Post arrived, Jacob was an educated horticulturalist. In fact, the first three generations of Jacob, Joseph and James, in that order, were formally educated horticulturalists.
Another significant factor is that these Posts were Roman Catholic. They arrived with the Benedictine monks of Subiaco who provided a formal education. There was community support for the church’s encouragement for large families and many of the Posts had very large families, one source of labor for the vineyards and winery. Today 15 to 20 relatives are active with the business and enjoy the rural setting and quality of life the family wine business provides.
“Family heritage and participation foster teamwork and pride in completing each task well which leads to ever increasing product quality,” Andrew, this generation’s head winemaker, said.
Jacob selected Altus for two reasons. The area was at the end of the Iron Mountain Railroad spur, thereby providing transportation to produce markets and the land looked like home with a climate conducive to fruit crops. Jacob settled at the time when people raised and made almost everything they needed. Setting aside 8 acres for grapes was part of that process.
The Post Familie Vineyards now produces 12 varieties of grapes, including the currently popular Muscadines in addition to heritage varieties from Jacob Post’s time. Varieties include Delaware and Cynthiana, also known as Norton. The hilltop vineyards were officially declared the Altus American Viticultural Area in 1984 by the United States Congress.
A critical and recent factor promoting the winery’s success is that Mathew Post and his children embraced new technologies and began to cater to new customer preferences including bottled juice and muscadine wines. The wine industry has recognized Mathew’s expertise by presenting him with its highest award: Supreme Knight of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine.
Recent improvements include a six-layer filtering system which filters down to the cellular level and a nitrogen-filled bottling machine, which prevents oxidation and preserves wine quality. Post Familie’s winemaker is using oak fans rather than oak barrels to provide the necessary tannins. Huge stainless steel tanks are sterilized, rather than merely sanitized, and are complete with temperature control. That temperature control allows for the yeast process to be slowed so the wine matures at a rate optimum for flavor and stabilizes wine storage before bottling.
A crucial factor in the Post Familie Winery’s success has been the distribution network. After prohibition, James Mathew Post, (Mathew’s father) was instrumental in drafting Arkansas’s broader wine distribution regulations, which allow for the sale of wine across state lines to distributors who then sell it to retailers. Post Familie wines are available in four adjoining states.
Demand exceeds what the 200-acre, 250,000 plant farm can produce, so the winery purchases grapes both locally and from other premium grape producing states such as California, Washington and Michigan. Post Familie Winery bottles almost 50 different labels rather than the typical six to eight for smaller wineries.
Families with long and carefully documented histories are full of stories. A favorite in the Mathew Post family is when his great-grandmother Katherine Post was arrested for selling wine at her restaurant/speakeasy during Prohibition.
The arrest came after an election when a shirt-tail relative was replaced by a new sheriff, who made his first order of business to arrest this mother of 12.
She was later pardoned from the federal offense by President Herbert Hoover at the request of the Arkansas governor because of the public outcry.
When her concerned family wrote to her while she was in prison, she replied that they shouldn’t worry because she was having a good vacation.
The Post Familie Vineyards and Winery promotes its belief in education by providing a visitors’ hospitality center, which offers daily tours in addition to wine tasting, a retail area and farm-to-table restaurant headed by granddaughter and chef Terése Post. The Trellis Room at Post Winery is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for the lunch with limited seating and reservations suggested.
“As a family and through the years we have decided to do one thing and do it very well: producing and selling premium wine and grape juices,” Joseph, the winery’s distribution manager, said.http://www.ozarksfn.com/2018/04/30/family-tradition-and-family-lore/http://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Post-1024x689.jpghttp://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Post-150x150.jpgOzarks RootsArkansas,Jacob Post,Post,Post Familie Vineyards,wine,winemakingThe Post family has been making wine in Arkansas since 1879 Winemaking began many thousands of years ago with most being family operations. Much seems shrouded in old-world traditions. Examples include using wooden tanks for fermenting, natural cork as the preferred sealer and specially shaped glass bottles. Many wineries were...Terry RoppTerry Roppterrymerrill@hotmail.comAuthorOzarks Farm & Neighbor Newspaper