Friday, June 15, 2007

Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards and Winery

Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards and Winery
8045 Champagne Drive-HWY 186
Altus, Arkansas 72821

Winery Phone 479-468-4400
Toll free: 800-558-WINE (9463)
Fax 479-468-4414

Born August 1976, Audrey lived just west of Oklahoma City in the community of Yukon, Oklahoma, until 1989 when she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, to attend high school at Pulaski Academy, graduating in 1994. From there she moved to Norman, Oklahoma, to study psychology at the University of Oklahoma. During that time, she had a part-time job at the Greenhouse Nursery in Norman from 1995-97. Although she has no formal training in viticulture, Audrey has always loved plants; the nursery sparked that interest even more. In February 1998, Audrey bought 20 acres of land in Altus, Arkansas, from Al Wiederkehr. The land included 10 acres of Arkansas' first ever Chardonnay vineyard-planted in 1982-which hadn't been pruned or harvested for quite some time. That, however, was soon to change!

That first season Audrey corralled several of her friends to live part-time in tents in order to nurture her Chardonnay vineyard back into shape. Over the course of the next year, she divided her time between working her existing vineyard, planting new grape varieties, and building a house and the vineyard's original winery. By February 1999, Audrey had become a resident of Altus and Dragonfly Ranch, named for the more than 30 varieties of dragonflies found on her new estate. During those early days, Audrey began selling her harvest to area wineries-a practice she continues to this day.

In 2000, she expanded her plantings with the purchase of an additional 30 acres of pastureland. Today, 36 of Dragonfly Ranch's 50 acres are planted with varieties that include: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cynthiana, Muller Thurgau, Schreube, Kerner, Orameinsteiner, Vignoles, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, and Petite Sirah. Audrey was bottling wine of her own by July 21, 2001-the same year she opened Chateau aux Arc Winery (named for the original French spelling of "Ozark").

Along the way, Audrey met and worked closely with members of the other local wineries. One of those people was Thomas Post, who runs the farm and vineyards for Post Familie and who offered Audrey invaluable advice as she learned the ins and outs of vineyard cultivation. It soon became apparent that Audrey and Thomas shared more than just an interest in grapes, when their respect and admiration for one another bloomed into a romance and, then, ultimately, into their November 2002, marriage.

Audrey's personal and professional growth has continued on a steady course since that day. Once wed, she turned the building that served as her house into a new tasting room-with space for a gift shop-and began gaining notoriety for being the youngest vintner in the country as well as the newest winemaker in Altus. In 2004, two more significant changes occurred: the first, the birth of Thomas and Audrey's first child, Trinity, in June, followed by the September groundbreaking of a new, more spacious tasting room at Dragonfly Ranch.

One year later, Audrey unveiled her current 5,400-square-foot tasting room: a European-style building, accented by stacked rock columns, fit to be called by the name Chateau. A dry moat, stone walkways, and flowerbeds galore surround the impressive structure set on the edge of Dragonfly Ranch's manicured vineyards. Picnic tables scattered throughout the grounds complement the experience, beckoning visitors to soak in the atmosphere. Chateau aux Arc, open seven days a week, welcomes visitors to stop, relax and smell the lavender before moving on down the Altus Wine Trail.

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