By Hannah Ash
Northwest Arkansas is home to a number of award-winning local breweries and wineries, each with its own one-of-a-kind vibe and offerings. In 2013, Experience Fayetteville launched the Fayetteville Ale Trail, a self-guided tour through local breweries. Over the years, the Ale Trail has expanded to encompass all of Northwest Arkansas, including stops at fifteen breweries across Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, and even Siloam Springs.
Some of these breweries, such as Columbus House Brewery and Bike Rack Brewing Co., are conveniently located right off the Razorback Greenway trail and are the perfect pit stop during a bike ride through NWA. Some, like the Core Public House, have locations spread throughout the state.
All of these very niche local breweries offer a unique experience, not just through their homemade brews, but also in the activities and events they host. JJ’s Beer Garden & Brewing, located in uptown Fayetteville, is famous for having a plethora of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including (but not limited to) beach volleyball, cornhole, a playground, shuffleboard, and trivia nights. The JBGB also hosts free weekly concerts during the summer season, but their delicious full menu is available all year round.
One brewery really embodies the spirit of the Natural State in its location on the White River, and stays true to this brand by also being an environmentally conscious brewery. Saddlebock Brewery was also listed as one of the best brewery tours in America according to Yahoo! Travel. Visitors can kayak or canoe down the White River, stop for a bite to eat at the White River Cafe, and enjoy some homemade brews at Saddlebock, the perfect Natural State excursion!
Most of the breweries on the Ale Trail are conveniently located in downtown areas across NWA, like recent Ale Trail additions Ivory Bill Brewing in downtown Siloam Springs and Hawk Moth Brewery in downtown Rogers. These and other centrally located breweries are ideally located; patrons can spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon browsing the shops and restaurants downtown, then end the day relaxing with a local brew.
If beer is not your cup of tea, Northwest Arkansas is the state’s cornucopia of wine tasting as well. The most popular vineyard in the area is Sassafras Springs Vineyard, known for its delicious homemade wines, and also for hosting gorgeous weddings and events. While the winery is only a short drive, located in Springdale, it will have you feeling transported to another time with its gorgeous chapel ruins and beautiful rolling hills.
Just a short drive out of Springdale lies the Tontitown Winery, a family owned and operated institution since 1923. This local treasure offers free wine tastings every day of the week, and their wine can be purchased by the bottle at several locally famous eateries, such as the delicious Venesian Inn.
The quaint town of Eureka Springs is home to two distinctive wineries: Keel’s Creek Winery, which proudly showcases regional art on display, and Railway Winery & Vineyards, located on the historic M&NA railroad lines near the historic Beaver Bridge on the shores of Table Rock Lake.
For the serious winos and aspiring sommeliers, Northwest Arkansas is an ideal place to call home. Just about an hour away, tucked in the gorgeous scenic Ozark Mountains, is Arkansas wine country, which was actually declared a viticultural (ideal for grape growth) area before Napa Valley in California. Altus, Arkansas is home to the famous Wiederkher Wine Cellars, a family owned and operated vineyard since 1880.
The Wiederkher Village area and Altus are home to over five wineries and vineyards, each with their own unique wines and attractions! Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards & Winery is the latest addition, and is entirely eco-friendly, while Dionysus Wine & Brew offers guests the option to rent a yurt for the night. Come for a romantic getaway or a family trip down to Arkansas Wine Country and there is sure to be something for everyone!