How Missouri's Sustainable Winery Began
it started with a love of wine
Jowler Creek Vineyard and Winery grew out of the union of two very different “birds” from two different parts of the country. Growing up as the fifth generation on a cattle and row crop operation in central Missouri, you might say farming is in Jason Gerke’s blood. Staying close to his roots, Jason later majored in Agricultural Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Colleen grew up in the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country. While in college at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, she studied Agricultural Communications. In college she had the opportunity to take a chemistry or winemaking class to fulfill her science requirement and, luckily, she chose winemaking! Fate (and a beer tent at the Kansas City Zoo) brought these love birds together, first settling in the Waldo area of Kansas City, Missouri where they began making wine as hobby in their basement.
THE START OF A SUSTAINABLE VINEYARD AND WINERY
In 2003, the Gerkes purchased the piece of property the winery and vineyard sit on today, and broke ground planting 250 Norton grapevines in the spring of 2004. After several more years of planting grapes and making wine as a hobby, the couple decided to turn the basement of their home into a fully-licensed winery in 2006 and began making wine commercially in the fall of that year. Jowler Creek Winery made 100 cases of wine their first year and began selling their product at wine festivals and via wholesale channels into stores and restaurants in Kansas City. In subsequent years, the business broadened its wholesale sales to include liquor stores and restaurant in both Missouri and Kansas, and also started selling directly to customers out of its basement winery.
BUILDING A GREEN-BUILT TASTING ROOM
In 2010, the business built a new, 1,440-square-foot stand-alone winemaking and sales facility situated next to the vineyard. In 2013, additional warehouse space was leased in off-site to relieve some of the pressure for indoor space at the winery. After several years of transporting products and merchandise between facilities, the winery invested in a significant expansion of the winery facility to consolidate their production, storage and event space in one location.
Today, Jowler Creek manages more than 3,500 grapevines in its 7-acre sustainable vineyard and makes nine award-winning wines in various styles ranging from dry to sweet. Since the Gerke family’s home is in the middle of the sustainable vineyard and just yards away from the green-built winery, they try and do everything we can to protect the environment and sustain our business for generations to come.
Jowler Creek’s focus on green and sustainable production methods and quality has earned a number of awards and honors including the prestigious Jefferson Cup honor in 2012 and 2014 and Gold Medal honors at the Missouri Governor’s Cup contest. Jason & Colleen were the Platte County Farm Family of the Year in 2007, Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award Winners in 2009, and were the first winery in the state of Missouri to receive the prestigious Missouri Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program (ASAP) across six categories (specialty crop, energy, farmstead, livestock, grassland, and forestry)