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Wine Permit for Sassafras Springs Tops Grapevine of Beer & Wine Updates

2 min read

News of breweries and wineries is popping up all over Arkansas. Following is a roundup of recent developments:

• Sassafras Springs Vineyard in Springdale, owned by Gene Long and his wife, Cheryl, has been open since April 1, but it finally received its wine manufacturing permit from the state in May, though it isn’t likely to start producing until the end of the year, Long said.

Initially, Sassafras Springs will be buying the grapes it will use to produce wine, but Long expects the vineyard they’ve planted to start producing grapes for winemaking in about two years. It’s a hybrid grape provided to the Longs by the University of Arkansas for a fee.

The property consists of two parcels; one is a 15-acre site that once was Houston Nutt’s horse farm and the second a 405-acre spread.

They’ve hired award-winning winemaker Stephen Dollar, who previously worked at Chateau Aux Arc in Altus and is a graduate of the Arkansas Tech University winemaking program.

Sassafras Springs is also an event venue, playing host to weddings, corporate meetings and such, though Long says its focus is as a small-farm winery.

The venture is costing the Longs, both of whom own insurance agencies, about $1 million.

“We just felt like northwest Arkansas could use that type of venue,” Long said.

Long said the state doesn’t provide a lot of resources to those wanting to start wineries, but he praised Arkansas’ Post family and the Post Familie Vineyards & Winery in Altus for sharing their knowledge about grape-growing and winemaking. “If you don’t have experience in a winery, how do you start a winery? Well, in Arkansas you start a winery by talking to Joseph Post.”

• You’ve heard about the plan by Yellow Rocket Concepts (Big Orange, Local Lime) to start a brewery in Little Rock called Lost 40 and you’ve heard that Yellow Rocket has located its corporate headquarters in the east Little Rock building that will house the brewery.

Well, Yellow Rocket’s Scott McGehee has received approval from the state for a permit that would allow the brewery to open a restaurant as well at the site.

• Bike Rack Brewing Co. of Bentonville has applied for a state license as a native brewer. Its website, BikeRackBrewing.com, promises a summer opening in downtown Bentonville.

• Core Brewing & Distilling Co. of Springdale, which opened in 2010, has applied for a microbrewery restaurant permit, a good indication that it, too, plans to open a brewpub or something like it.

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