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As Number Of Kansas Wineries Increases, Industry Seeks Support From Legislature

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Scott Kohl, center, says there's a misconception that Kansas wine is lower quality than that produced in places like California.

The number of wineries in Kansas is increasing. Experts say there were 12 companies with licenses in 2008, compared to 40 today.

Scott Kohl leads the study of grapes and wines as the director of the Viticulture and Enology program at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas. The school helps to educate wine makers across the state.

Kohl says the "grow local" movement and increased awareness that grapes can grow in Kansas has helped build the industry.

"A lot of folks didn’t realize that there are wineries in Kansas and that if you look back at the history, there were lots of grapes in Kansas in the 1880s [and] 1890s," he says. "But then Prohibition and some weather events kind of ended all of that, and it’s finally starting to pick up again."

The biggest misconception, Kohl says, is that grapes grown in Kansas produce lower quality wine than in places like California.

"But I would argue just the opposite, that it's actually higher quality wine with better wine makers," he says. "It’s just different. It’s like Pepsi versus Coke, which do you like better."

Kohl says a task force may address the Legislature in January requesting an increase on a per-gallon tax on wine produced or imported in Kansas to help support the industry.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.