Converting farmland into a vineyard takes hard work and dedication. Changing from a life spent as a Western Kansas wheat farmer into a producer of great wines takes all that, and faith in a dream. This recipe is just what Kirk and Treva Johnston relied on when they opened Trego County’s first winery, Shiloh Vineyards.
Even before the Johnston’s put the first vine in the ground in 2006 they believed in their dream of reinvigorating Kansas’s unique history as a top wine grape producer with a vineyard of their own. Three years later they were able to share with friends and family the first of what is now twelve wines produced on their land. “People don’t realize this, but Kansas, with its wind and intense sun, is an ideal setting to raise grapes,” explains Treva.
Now growing different varieties of grapes, Shiloh Vineyards offers twelve wines, four of which feature fruit flavors made from Colorado peaches and locally sourced plum, pear, and apple varieties. The more traditional vintages of dry white, red and dessert wines are part of their inventory, of course, and in their tasting room, the farm’s refurbished 1920 chicken coop, guests are encouraged to try each variety.
I asked Treva if she had a favorite vintage and she paused before answering, “Each wine is part of a specific pairing; our Noiret 18 with a hearty beef meal, or our Plum 14 with a spicy meal. Each one is distinct and perfect in its own way.”
Kirk and Treva are looking forward to producing more great wines, and expanding the vineyard. Already they’ve added the tasting room and will soon be hosting special dinners featuring 4 course meals in a converted barn. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the beautiful sunsets found in Trego County.
Shiloh Vineyards is located south of Interstate-70, West of WaKeeney at Exit 120. You can visit their website for directions, a map and phone number to visit the vineyard and tasting room.