Thursday, September 17, 2015

Head to 4M Vineyards—It’s Concord Time!

Oh, joy! The concord grapes are ready at 4M Vineyards! You can buy 3-lb. boxes, 20-lb. half bushels, and 40-lb. whole bushels of them at excellent prices through about the end of October. (The grape season usually starts in early to mid August and extends into October.)

Most people make jelly or juice from concords, but I like to make them into grape pies, tarts, and kuchens, and “pickled grapes” (which is really a spiced grape jam, akin to pickled peaches). The latter is a favorite of Dad’s.

Right now, I’m giving you links to 4M’s website and Facebook page—look at those for official info and updates on what’s currently available.

During grape harvest season, they’re open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. When it gets to be late October and the grape crop is finishing, to make sure to call ahead to make sure they’re open: 573-265-3340.

Once there’s a hard frost, that’s the end of the grapes: 4M typically has them available for about a week after the frost, but then that’s it. So call ahead if it’s late October.

4M Vineyards and Farms is located at 20670 State Route KK, which is 4 miles east of St. James, Missouri. Where they’re at, Route KK, actually old Route 66, runs along the south side of I-44 like an outer road, and 4M and some of its vineyards are plainly visible from the interstate.

If you’re on I-44, get off at the Highway 68/St. James exit, go south, and turn left (east) at the first stoplight (James Blvd., which becomes Route KK). (Often, people actually park on the shoulder of the interstate and walk up the grassy slope and across Route KK, but that’s not recommended!)

This, by the way, is the Ozark Highlands/St. James/Rosati grape-growing region of Missouri, a distinct American Viticultural Area (appellation) designated by the U.S. government (TTB). For more about that, visit the St. James Winery on the north side of the interstate.

Okay: Of all the places to purchase grapes in Missouri, why am I telling you about 4M Vineyards?

Because they’re the real thing, they’re local, they’re friendly, and their products, though unpretentiously presented, are deserving of the highest praise. It’s been a family business since 1984. My blog has always been about things like that.

One look at 4M’s annual letter and price list says it all. (Seriously, click on the link, and you’ll find an informational, entertaining announcement about 4M Vineyards’ progress and offerings this year. You’ll especially enjoy the story of the grapevine-chomping deer, the air cannon . . . and the neighbors!)

I love 4M Vineyards, and I deeply admire Mike and Jody Rippelmeyer, who own it. There are incredibly good reasons why their vineyards are expanding, why their preserves and baked goods are so delicious, and why a visit to their market is so pleasant.

We always make an annual trip to 4M! It’s worth it. I need my nice big box of concords!

I process (deseed) grapes in 3-cup batches, put them in quart-size freezer zip bags, and freeze them—each is enough for a pie or a kuchen, or a pint or so of pickled grapes.

But at 4M, we can also start our Christmas shopping: They sell a glorious variety of homemade jellies, jams, and other preserves that you can’t purchase just anywhere. Think how much your impoverished friends who live in big cities will love these goodies!

I mean, seriously! Here is a PARTIAL list (partial, because I ran out of room on my notepad!):

  • Apple butter; amaretto apple butter
  • Blackberry jelly
  • Cantaloupe marmalade
  • Catawba grape jam and jelly
  • Concord grape jam, jelly, and juice
  • Corn cob jelly
  • Cucumber pickles (various kinds)
  • Elderberry jelly and jam
  • Green tomato chutney
  • Jalapeno jelly (several kinds)
  • Niagara grape jam and jelly
  • Pear jelly; pear honey
  • Pineapple jelly
  • Pumpkin butter; pumpkin pie jelly
  • Relishes of various kinds
  • Salsas of various kinds
  • Tomato jam and jelly
  • Wild plum jelly and jam
  • Wine jelly (this is incredibly delicious!)
  • Zucchini pickles (various kinds)

—Wowsa! Doesn’t that sound tempting? Their shelves and shelves of preserves make me feel proud, and I didn’t lift a finger. And yes, they have samples for you to try.

And they make these goodies themselves—this isn’t just shipped in from Pennsylvania or someplace.

They also sell homemade banana bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and apple chip bread. (Just typing this, my mouth is watering.)

And they also make and sell grape pie—which is my favorite kind of pie. Not many people in Missouri make grape pie, but it’s well worth the extra effort. It is not only exquisitely delicious, but also a joy to behold, being a glorious, deep, royal purple.

Local honey and low-priced, top-notch fresh fruits and vegetables round out the edible bounty.

There’s also a fun selection of antiques and collectables, with an emphasis on cooking supplies. (Christmas is coming; and you know you could always use another cookie sheet, baking pan, or casserole dish!)

And although they don’t make and sell wine themselves, they sell wine-making supplies, including a selection of yeasts and (of course) bulk grapes! You can buy grape plants, too.

This is the best time of year to be in Missouri, and while you’re driving around enjoying the crisp air and scenery, stop at 4M and get some concords, while they last!

4M Vineyards and Farms
21000 State Route KK
St. James, MO 65559

  • Farm stand is typically open Aug. 7 to Nov. 1
  • Opening depends on ripening; closing depends on how long the crop holds.
  • Call ahead in early August or late October, to ensure they are open.
  • Open daily, 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Irvin Moss said...

I'm from Missouri and I love our Concord grapes and especially the wines. St. James Winery is a favorite with me for their juice and wine. I made a pretty good Concord jam a few years back and this has me wanting to make it again. I gave it to nearly everyone, bragging about our Missouri grapes in the process.

Irvin Moss @ Shop Brewmeister

Julianna Schroeder said...

Mmm, yeah! It doesn't hurt that grape harvest and grape cooking is at that time of year when Missouri's weather and landscapes are at their best. If you like making grape jam, I encourage you to check out this retro recipe for a spiced grape jam. My dad's enthralled with the stuff! Here's the URL:

Thanks for commenting,

Anthony Reichardt said...

24 years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting with Mike's grandfather, Russell Rippelmeyer, at his grape stand on old Route 66 and captured our conversation on video. It was a much smaller and primitive stand compared to what Jody and Mike operate out of now. Here is the link to the YouTube video of that visit:

Kind regards,
Anthony Reichardt
Santa Ana, California

Julianna Schroeder said...

WOW, thank you, Anthony, for sharing this information! I hope you get a chance to come back and see the 4M Vineyards stand.


Julianna Schroeder said...

Also, since I made this post, there's been an interesting development on the other side of the highway, in St. James: Public House brewing went in next door to the St. James Winery showroom, and the two share a *beer/wine garden.* They have several events and parties open to the public, and it's just a really nifty place to spend an afternoon. It's kid-friendly, too. Add to these the Maramec Spring and trout hatchery, St. James is a nice way to spend some time!