Wine brings people together, even during a pandemic


COVID has affected every aspect of our lives, up-heaving our norm. We’re in the midst of a pandemic; someone tell that to the grapes.

Crooked Post Winery + Vineyard is the only known Topeka-area winery hosting public harvest days this year and they’ve seen unprecedented volunteer support. The eight-week harvest has limited the number of volunteers who may help pick, crush and harvest to ensure social distancing, but it is still the largest turn-out to date. “I think people just want to be outside, be part of something sustainable and connective,” expressed Lori Henderson. Lori and Kevin own the 152-acre farm located southeast of VAlley Falls which provides the French-American Hybrid wine grapes for the dozens of Kansas celebrated wines.

In 2019, 250 volunteers harvested 14 tons of local sourced grapes, providing nine varietals and dozens of wines available for consumption and purchase at Crooked Post Winery and Vineyard the following year.

Harvest time, which normally runs August to September, is an all-hands on deck event. Volunteers spend two to three hours on either the 152-acre farm vineyard located southeast of Valley Falls or the Winery Vineyard at Ozawkie where they pick grapes which have reached their maturity. Next, everyone travels to the winery where they participate in the machine crushing of the grapes and watch the beginning process of turning the juice into wine. After a morning of work, it’s only fitting to toast with a family-style meal and lots of vino, of course.

The eight week-long process takes hundreds of volunteers and for the past 10 years family and friends have always obliged. This year, however, is different. When Lori Henderson put a call to action out on Facebook, she was flooded with phone calls and volunteers. “We are the only Topeka area winery doing any harvesting this year with the public,” said Henderson “and this is our biggest turnout ever!”

Wine lovers from around the state will begin the harvest on Saturday, September 5.


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About the Grapes

Crooked Post Vineyard consists of 6 1/2 planted acres of French-American Hybrid wine grapes on a 152-acre farm located southeast of Valley Falls on the northeast edge of Lake Perry with six different varieties.

Established in 2006, the vineyard provides the needed Kansas grapes for our winery, located west of Ozawkie on Hwy 92. The grapes are hand-picked and pruned and grown without insecticides. The Winery Vineyard location was planted in 2014 and was first harvested in 2017.

Making quality wines that celebrate our Midwest Regional landscape

Crooked Post Winery and Vineyard grows hybrid wine grapes suited for the Kansas midwest region climate; they are able to survive the extreme heat and cold allowing them to make high quality wine. Currently the vineyard has Traminette, Seyval Blanc, Noiret, Cayuga White, Valvin Muscat, Concord, Vignoles, St. Vincent, Cabernet Franc and Edelweiss.

After five years of selling pesticide free and hand picked grapes to Kansas wineries in our area to promote Kansas Travel and Tourism, Kevin and Lori decided to open their own Kansas Winery in the spring of 2014. The 3,600 square feet Italian-style building was built in the summer of 2013 near Lake Perry has a tasting room and large event room that we use for special dinners. Harvest parties start in mid-August to late September with lunch, wine tasting, tours and help with the crush.

Ongoing events include live music, tasting classes and Bingo for the Cats & Dogs. The winery is extremely philanthropic, donating thousands each year to area animal rescue shelters.


By Kerrice Mapes

Kerrice Mapes

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