The leprechaun guarding this particular pot of gold is Erv Langan, the gregarious owner of Keltoi Winery. Erv refers to himself as a “chubby leprechaun,” and even if you don’t like wine, it’s worth the drive to Keltoi just to meet this man whose personality is larger than life.My husband joined me on my first visit to Keltoi. We lounged inside by the cozy fire, since it was wintertime. On my most recent visit, he served as chauffeur. He kindly dropped off me and my friend Carrie at the winery so that we could imbibe freely. But you don’t need my husband to drive you to Keltoi; just pace yourself and enjoy responsibly – and always have a designated driver.
To figure out which Keltoi wine best suited our palates, Carrie and I ordered a wine tasting, which allowed us to sample around 10 varieties of Keltoi wines for just $6 each. We began the wine tasting inside the bright yellow building, where there are several tables to sit at, as well as a comfy seating arrangement by the fireplace.
We sat on the sofa with a plate of crackers nearby so that we could clear our palate between each trying wine. Then, the wine fest began.I’ll just highlight a few of the wines here so I don’t spoil the experience for you when you go to Keltoi (because you’ll want to go to find your own pot of gold, right?).Red Wines
The Norton is the most popular red wine at Keltoi, and it’s made from the Norton grape, which is the state grape of Missouri. I didn’t even know we had a state grape.Biddy Early is named after an Irish woman who was thought to have possessed mystical powers. This name suits the wine because it’s a bit magical: it has a smoky aroma but, thanks to the flavors of cinnamon and clove, “tastes like Christmas,” according to Carrie. This would be a great wine to enjoy during the winter holidays.Red Shamrock is my favorite red wine at Keltoi because it tastes very similar to a merlot, which I love to drink. A medium-bodied wine, it presents a mix of fruit, earth, and spice. It’s made from the Chambourcin grape, which is a French-American hybrid.
Irish Raindrops, a semi-sweet wine, is the most popular white wine at Keltoi, and the one most requested for weddings.I’m usually not a sweet wine drinker, but I really enjoyed Irish Moondrops, which tasted like butterscotch to me. I love butterscotch.As for fruit wines, we sampled pear, apple, and peach. All were delicious, and each one’s flavor was true to its fruit. The apple and pear wines reminded me of fall, and the peach wine reminded me of summer.A wine tasting at Keltoi can take as long as you want it to, and for Carrie and I, it lasted a few hours. But that’s the beauty of this. Unlike happy hour at Sonic, where drinks are guzzled down to quench thirst, a wine tasting at Keltoi is an experience to be enjoyed mindfully, and to savor.Keltoi was bustling with activity on the Sunday afternoon that we visited. Tables were filled with couples playing cards while they shared a bottle of wine (my husband and I will have to try that soon), as well as groups of girlfriends chatting away, just like Carrie and me.Canine friends graced our presence that day, as well. There was Kayga, Erv’s quiet old pal.
This is Sneakers, who recently chose Erv to be his person. Erv named him Sneakers because he likes to sneak food when no one is looking.
If you’re not a dog person, don’t worry. The dogs here will leave you alone unless you specifically show them attention. Since I was with Carrie, the pied piper of the canine world, we enjoyed our share of puppy time.Halfway through our wine tasting, Carrie and I moved outside to the patio so that we could enjoy the beautiful spring day. My plan was to finish our tasting and then walk the grounds of the winery, since the last time I’d been there it was winter and too cold for a stroll.
Keltoi has a mile-long walking trail, and an area called Maynooth, which I was curious to explore. Named after an ancient site in Ireland, Maynooth contains a Fairy Circle encircling a Tree of Life, as well as a replica of the megalithic site Nine Ladies.But my plans were halted when I saw my husband driving our mini-van into the parking lot. I swear it was morphing into a pumpkin with each rotation of its wheels.Ladies’ afternoon at the winery had come to an end.Still, the magical feeling that we’d experienced that day stayed with us as we drove away. Like a generous leprechaun, Erv had shared a piece of his gold with us, and we felt a bit richer because of it.
Keltoi Winery is located at 17705 County Road 260 in Oronogo, Missouri.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.