The Origins of Jowler Creek

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One of the things that make exploring wine country so much fun (aside from drinking the delicious wines) is learning about the people and history of the various wineries you visit. Who is involved, why did they start a winery, and where did the name of the winery come from? We get these questions all the time and love sharing our background and the history of our area.

Jowler Creek Winery is a first generation vineyard and winery that we started in 2004. Who are we? We are Jason and Colleen Gerke, founders, owners and wine makers of Jowler Creek Winery. Licensed in 2006, Jowler Creek Winery combines our love of agriculture and wine. We came together in rural Platte County, Missouri despite having started out in two very different parts of the country. You can read more on our path to the wine business here.

So, where did the name Jowler Creek Winery and our little raccoon mascot come from? The simple answer is that we “borrowed” the name from the local geography. The actual Jowler Creek runs to the south and east of our vineyard and winery flowing gracefully under Jowler Creek Road, past the bald eagles, red fox, deer and coyotes, on its way toward the Platte River. The Platte River then winds its way down to the mighty Missouri River and beyond.

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When starting our winery, we knew a wine brand tied to a sir name or a family crest was not the direction we wanted to go. It'd be too rigid and too focused inward rather than on the land and people enjoying the wine. The name Jowler Creek Winery, however, brought to mind the environment in which the grapes would be grown, our love of nature and a rhythmic moniker to be remembered.

The Tale of the Raccoon’s Tail

At about the same time the two of us were kicking around potential names for a winery, friends and family would pitch in to help us plant vines and establish infrastructure for the vineyard. Two terrific friends accompanying us on this journey are Christy and Arch Fuston, founders of Brand Endurance - a boutique design studio. In the spring of 2005, Christy and Arch joined us in planting grape vines in the newly established vineyard. Vines started from cutting were being taken from a nursery and replanted in the vineyard under a clear, blue early-May sky.

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Unfortunately, on this day, Arch had an injured ankle and could not operate the shovel or get around well on the rough terrain. So while Christy, Colleen and I planted the vines in the soil, Arch prepped the new vines and distributed them to us. At some point, having worked far ahead of the planters, Arch began to doodle on a cardboard box. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he sketched a primitive raccoon and took his drawing with him at the end of the day.

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Several months later, we began contemplating label design ideas. Colleen turned to Christy and Arch, who were not only the most avid supporters of the winery, but creative design professionals to boot. Through a creative interview and discussion process, Christy and Arch developed and narrowed down five to six amazing label ideas. But the one that caught our attention— the one that stood out the most—featured an eclectic, little raccoon. The same raccoon originally sketched by Arch many months before in the vineyard!

Needless to say we adopted the raccoon idea and with Christy’s layout and design talents we develop a brand and the graphic elements that worked for us and our customers. It was natural, it was different, it was fun and it was memorable.

Serendipity in History

Over time our brand has grown and we have adopted the raccoon as our mascot and brand logo. But there has always been a piece of the puzzle missing. How did the actual Jowler Creek get its name?

Recorded history is fairly limited when it comes to the naming of Jowler Creek in Platte County. Early records from the Platte County archives denote the name in ledgers of expenditure to build a bridge over Jowler Creek as early as 1872 (Annals of Platte County, Missouri by William Paxton).And it would likely have gone unnoticed by most if the Kansas City/St. Joseph Interurban Railroad didn’t cross its path and position a train stop not far from its banks from 1913 to 1933.

Despite the lack of written history, local families in the area have passed down stories from generation to generation as to how the creek got its name. Most believe it was named by a land owner, after his beloved coon hunting dog, Jowler. It was Jowler’s Creek referring to the favorite place for this prized hunting dog and he to tree the biggest and best raccoons in the region.

Literature seems to back up this notion as the name Jowler for a dog was popularized by a number of short stories and children’s stories from the early 1800s. At least three books tell of Jowler’s character from the 1860s and 1870s.

·         “A Children’s Friend” March 2, 1863, by W.C. Wilson and others. Short story “Two dogs.” 

·         “Sunshine at Home:  Sparkling Pages for the Child, the Youth, the Parent” Short stories including, “Jowler.”

·         “The High Mills, Volume 1” by B. Tauchnitz, 1874 a short story titled “Good Words” ed. By N. Macleod

The Merriam-Webster dictionary also has this to say about the origins of the word Jowler: Chiefly Scottish; a dog having extremely large jaws or jowls.”

It was serendipity that the raccoon sketch came to be and we choose to call our winery Jowler Creek. Some might say it was meant to be.

Have further questions about the history of our winery, our name, or our cute little raccoon mascot? Comment below, e-mail us at info@jowlercreek.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to keep in touch!