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MSU wins double-gold medal in New York competition

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Dr. Karl Wilker and C. J. Odneal with a bottle of “Grapeshine,” winner of a double gold medal at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition, one of three “triple crown” events.

MOUNTAIN GROVE – MSU Grapeshine, distilled at the Missouri State University Wine and Distillation won a double gold medal at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition Sept. 10-11, 2014.

The New York Competition is one of the three Triple Crown of competitions, which also include the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Thirty double gold winners were from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Scotland, Japan, Barbados, Mexico and Australia. Congrats to Dr. Karl Wilker, research professor, and C. J. Odneal, winery/distillery technician on this award.

The Missouri State University Winery is a commercially-licensed winemaking and distillation facility located at the State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove and is part of the Darr School of Agriculture, directed by Dr. Anson Elliott.

The distillation program began in 2007 to develop fruit based products and to support the growing craft distillation industry. So far the program has produced brandies and liqueurs from grape (Grapeshine and Grappa), apple, peach, blueberry blackberry and raspberry. More recently, vanilla spirits and rum are being developed in response to industry interest.

Industry outreach includes national consultation and an annual fruit brandy distillation workshop. The workshop exposes the participants to the distillation process and allows them to gain experience in the sensory evaluation required to determine when to make the “cuts” between heads, hearts and tails.

“The first distillate is not used for consumption (heads),” writes Marilyn Odneal. “The heart is what you capture for use in products, and the tails is harsh and not used for the spirits. Although large operations will have equipment that determines when to make the cuts, a craft distiller needs to rely on his or her sensory abilities.”

Proceeds from product sales support research, educational opportunities for Missouri State students and outreach programs for industry and the public. Medals at competitions are important in marketing and sales of products and are another facet of the process from vineyard to winery/distillery to the consumer giving students a full circle experience in this program.

“The double gold award was quite a morale booster for our grape harvest crew since it has been quite a long season this year, says Odneal. “We are finishing up with Chambourcin grapes and have yet to harvest the remaining Norton and Catawba. We all feel that we are a part of this honor. More information on the contest is found at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition website at http://www.nyworldwineandspiritscompetition.com.

You can reach Marilyn Odneal by email at MarilynOdneal@missouristate.edu. Write to Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, 9740 Red Spring Road, Mountain Grove, Mo. 65711; or call (417) 547-7500.

 The MSU harvest crew provides the raw materials to the Missouri State Winery and Distillery. From back left: Kellis Parker, Jeremy Emery, Randy Stout, Randy Kreuser, Tom Barker, Sheila Long, Aaron Tayler. From front left,  Jade Turney, Manny McFall and Amanda Gonzales. Jeremy and Amanda are Vesta Grape and Wine Program students.

The MSU harvest crew provides the raw materials to the Missouri State Winery and Distillery. From back left: Kellis Parker, Jeremy Emery, Randy Stout, Randy Kreuser, Tom Barker, Sheila Long, Aaron Tayler. From front left, Jade Turney, Manny McFall and Amanda Gonzales. Jeremy and Amanda are Vesta Grape and Wine Program students.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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