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On August 17, 1967, Cowie Wine Cellars was established as a federal and state bonded winery in Paris (Logan County), fulfilling the lifelong passion of founder Robert Cowie, who had begun making wine as a hobby at age fifteen. Cowie Wine Cellars remains, by choice of its founder, the smallest winery in the state, though it has won a number of state and national awards, in particular for its Cynthiana and Robert’s Port.
Robert Cowie built his winery, originally a small metal building, on the former property of St. Ann’s School, just west of Paris at Carbon City, in 1969. Three years later, his family was able to build a house on the property and move to the winery site, and in 1973, they began construction on the current winery building. Also located on the premises of the winery are the Arkansas Historic Wine Museum, which is the only museum in the United States dedicated to preserving the wine culture of an entire state, and a two-unit bed and breakfast.
In 1979, Cowie Wine Cellars held the first annual Arkansas Championship Grape Stomp and Cowie Wine Fest, which occurs each fall. A regional interest in home winemaking, for which the winery sells supplies, spurred the creation of the Cowie International Amateur Wine Competition in 1984. This event offers an ounce of gold and twenty-four ounces of silver, along with certificates, as awards to amateur winemakers. Professional wine judges from across the state rate the entries. The 2004 competition featured 255 entries from sixteen states.
In 1982, the winery entered its first competition, the Eastern Wine Competition in New York, winning the top honors for Cynthiana, a grape native to Arkansas. The winery has won many awards in several state, regional, and national competitions. In the 2004 Arkansas State Fair Wine Competition, for example, Cowie Wine Cellars won five of the ten “Best of Show” awards, out of the five state wineries competing.
The winery is known for Cynthiana and Robert’s Port but offers many other wines. The selection runs from dry to sweet, along with several fruit varieties. The winery grows some of the grapes but also purchases grapes and fruits for its winemaking. The Cowie family practices a “hands on” approach to the art of winemaking, bottling and labeling the wine by hand.
For additional information:Arkansas Historic Wine Museum. Paris, Arkansas. http://www.cowiewinecellars.com/museum1.html (accessed December 6, 2011).
Cowie Wine Cellars. http://www.cowiewinecellars.com/ (accessed February 28, 2006).
Robert G. CowieArkansas Historic Wine Museum
Last Updated 12/6/2011
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