Wines & Wine Tasting
Our guests love the natural beauty of Sassafras Springs, and so do we. Celebrate awesome occasions on any of three expansive decks behind the tasting room where you can enjoy delicious food and wine in a peaceful outdoor setting, with heaters to warm you when temperatures dip. Oh, and feel free to bring along your furry friend (outdoors only). The top deck is covered, and there’s also a large enclosed space that seats up to 50 people, in addition to a spacious middle deck. Get close to nature at the ground-level patio by the creek that runs through our property, and get close to your friends as you gather round the firepit with seating up to 20. For larger events, there’s an adjacent sitting area with a capacity for 80. Whether you’re sharing a small, intimate dinner or a birthday party for a crowd, we’ll arrange all the admirable details.
The Tasting Room
Once an old milk barn with many rustic features preserved, the Tasting Room is a delightful setting where you and your friends and family can enjoy delicious wine, beer, food and more.
Step into the Fire and Vine Room with its beautiful, natural wood décor and find your favorite seat. On cool nights, we invite you and your friends to cozy up by the fireplace in a special nook. With seating for up to 40, there’s plenty of space and tables for everyone to enjoy live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 6:00 – 9:00 performed by locally acclaimed artists. Complement your glass of wine or beer with one of our specialty pizzas, salads, artisan charcuterie or fromage board pre-assembled or customized the way you like it.
Your tasting session includes four 2-ounce pours ($10), and a keepsake Sassafras logo wineglass. Our award-winning wines are the best kept secret in Arkansas!
Two wines we’re especially excited to offer in the future is a red called Enchantment and a white called Opportunity, named for the grapes that took breeders at the University of Arkansas nearly three decades to develop. These choice grapes will grow on newly-planted vines here at Sassafras Springs, along with Chambourcin grapes used to produce our popular Sassy Rosé.
Meet Cheryl & Gene Long
Sassafras Vineyard Wines:
Our award-winning Sassafras varietals are among our most popular:
Cheryl Long’s Chardonnay
Notes of ripe apricot and a floral bouquet, with a smooth buttery finish.
Notes of ripe apple and strawberries. Fruity with a smooth finish and a touch of effervescence.
Fresh fruit notes followed by firm tannins with hints of ripe blueberries, rhubarb and cherries.
Award Winning Wines
We produce 800-1,000 cases a year of our award-winning wines, Sassy Rosé, Sassy Syrah, and Cheryl’s Chardonnay. The fruit is unloaded at our production building, raked into the destem machine and poured into huge steel tanks. You may wonder, why do we need to remove the stems from the grape bunches before fermentation? Well, the simple answer is tannins. Grape stems and seeds contain high concentrations of bitter tannins, and leaving them in the must during fermentation will result in a wine so high in aggressive tannins it will not be pleasant to drink. Grape skins also contain natural tannins, so we don’t eliminate all tannins by removing the stems. The grape skins will provide plenty of tannins without all the aggressive, green, stalky flavors.
We babysit the wine like a newborn for the first few weeks—and as with any newborn baby, this means getting up at night! An alarm is set to wake up Derek, the winemaker, who gets up to stir the juice. The red wine needs extra-special attention, as the skins must be pressed down to the bottom so the grapes can get the full flavor, tannin and color. Seven to eight months later, the wine’s ready to be bottled. As Derek likes to say, “There’s Joy in every glass!”
Taste the excellence in our West Coast and award-winning Sassafras varietals:
2017 Pinot Grigio, Sonoma County, Private Reserve:
This bright, cheerful wine has aromas of stone fruit, sweet pear, baby’s breath and jasmine blossoms. The flavorful palate showcases deliciously juicy-crisp, bright fruit flavors that make this wine a fan favorite.
2017 Red Zinfandel, California, Classic Series:
Delicious flavors of candied cherry, jammy blackberries, dried cranberry, savory black pepper and allspice weave together in this full-bodied wine. The palate is expansive and enticingly complex. Soft, supple tannins lead to a youthful and vibrant finish.
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Private Reserve:
Elegant and dry, this savory Cabernet has expressive dark fruit flavors and aromas, a supple palate and subdued tannins. Enjoy as an effortless pairing for grilled or roasted red meat, especially when you add flavors of cracked black pepper, garlic, rosemary or mushrooms.
2016 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Platinum Series:
Enticing floral aromas of violets lead to concentrated fruit flavors of wild strawberry and cherry. This Pinot Noir is savory and earthy with a nice, soft texture. Tannins are present and the mouthfeel is very well-rounded.
2017 Riesling, California:
Elegant and refined, with citrus zest and freshly-sliced Asian pears on the nose. The palate shows good balance, with crisp acidity and a generous mouthfeel. The medium body is followed nicely by a slightly sweet, delicate finish laced with honeydew, lychee and candied ginger.
2017 Moscato, California:
Delicate aromas of honeyed apricots, fresh Indian peaches, jasmine, honeysuckle and rose petals leap from the glass. The sweet, succulent flavors combine with bright acidity to a bright floral finish.
Our other West Coast varietals are created to our exacting specifications to delight our customers:
During the harvest of 2017, Northern California wine country experienced raging, catastrophic fires that threatened the entire wine economy in that region, as well as the vintage. Luckily, most of our grapes had already been harvested by that time, and our wines were barely affected if at all. 2017 is a very promising vintage, yielding wines with excellent acidity and vibrant aromatics.
Virtually all great wine-growing regions are situated by water, which has a moderating effect on climatic extremes. With approximately 60 miles of rugged Pacific coastline and the mighty Russian River winding its way inland, Sonoma County is blessed with mild, Mediterranean conditions: Warm, sunny days and cool, foggy nights allow for slow, even maturation, optimal flavor development and ideal sugar to acid balance.
Russian River Valley:
If there was only one word you could use to describe the key influence on the regional growing conditions of the Russian River Valley, it would certainly be “fog.” The vines soak up the afternoon sun, which brings the grapes along gradually, toward maturity. They spend their mornings and evenings under a cool veil of coastal fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean, just a few miles away. The persistent daily fog keeps the natural acidity bright and extends the growing season, often by as much as 15 to 20% over neighboring regions, giving the grapes the all-important hang time they need to develop peak flavor maturity.
Covering over 11 million acres, this American Viticulural Area (AVA) is Washington’s largest, spanning across over a third of the state and into Oregon. Wines sourced from this booming wine region are often characterized by unadulterated fruit flavors and vibrant aromatics, due to the cool growing climate. Some of the other key components that make this a successful appellation are the volcanic and sandy loam soil of the valley, which offers good drainage. This soil is also not high in nutrients, which helps coax the vine to concentrate its resources into the grape clusters, producing higher quality, more flavorful berries. Vines in this part of the world also require more irrigation, which, along with being located in a rain shadow under the Cascade mountain range, allows for consistent ripening time with less risk of mildew and frost during the hang time. The quality of fruit from the Columbia Valley is indisputably exceptional, with the potential to improve over time as the vines better with age.
Check our Wine Menu for our constantly changing “Select Wines” with three-six favorite wines recommended by our owners, members and local wine enthusiasts.
We carry over 70 remarkable wines from around the world, with prices ranging from $30 to a 1964 Château Lafite Rothschild that sells for over $500. Look for our “Reserve Collection” wine cooler and select an outstanding bottle for your special event.
Here is a sampling from the Sassafras Reserve Collection:
2012 Burly Cabernet, Napa Valley:
This big, bold Cabernet has a nose of black fruit and a thick, viscous mouthfeel, with aromas of cassis and blackberries and notes of chocolate and anises. Fruit grown in the Coombsville region just east of Napa means hang time is longer due to the cooler climate, leading to intensified flavor and layering in the finished wine.
2009 Dom Pérignon Champagne (Vintage), France:
Only the finest grapes from the finest years are produced by the Champagne house Moët & Chandon, and this 2009 DM vintage is critically acclaimed. Wine Spectator describes its “subtle power . . . which boasts a firm, crystalline frame of acidity married to the fine, satin-like mousse and notes of white raspberry, brioche and Earl Grey tea. Seamless through to the long finish of smoke and spice accents, this opens beautifully in the glass.”
2014 Emmolo Merlot, Napa Valley:
Grapes for this lush, supple wine were sourced from Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll district, which includes two family vineyards. The area’s cooler weather, along with crop thinning and gravelly light soil, creates ideal conditions for producing a rich, distinctive Merlot. Winemaker Jenny Wagner is willing to push boundaries, and this wine shows it, with expansive, dark berry flavors, a fresh earthiness and smooth, leathery tannins.
2016 Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley:
The Wagner family’s passion for winemaking is in their DNA, as fans of Caymus Vineyards and wines well know. Chuck Wagner’s son, Joe, created Quilt Wines and offers this deep, dark ruby wine, which Joe describes as “Broad and mouth-filling with a satisfying mix of flavors ranging from rich molasses, stewed rhubarb, tobacco and nutmeg that integrate into a long satisfying finish complemented by balanced acidity, and smooth, velvety tannins.”
2016 Rombauer Chardonnay, Carneros:
You may recognize the name Rombauer from the internationally-beloved cookbook, the Joy of Cooking, because it was written by Irma Rombauer—and she was the great aunt of Koerner Rombauer, who with his wife Joan established Rombauer Vineyards nearly four decades ago. Their motto, “The Joy of Wine,” is celebrated in this vintage Chardonnay described by the winemaker as having “Enticing aromas of vanilla, melon, papaya, and mango that are layered with baked apples, creme brulee, butter, and a slight minerality. Those scents are echoed as flavors on the creamy, rich palate, along with peach, pie crust, and baking spices. The long, smooth finish is marked by mouthwatering acidity.”