Named for the original stone house built in 1862 into the side of an 80-foot limestone cliff in the heart of wine country in Potosi, Missouri, Edg-Clif Farms & Vineyard has been part of the Knapp family story for four generations. The property, located on a 550-acre vintage farm, is home to a herd of 150 bison as well as 3,200 vines spread among 7 acres of vineyards – and is only an hour-and-a-half drive southwest of St. Louis.
The farm was founded in 1926 by St. Louis-area entrepreneur Andrew Stephen Knapp and his wife, Hazel, who purchased the property and its accompanying cliffside stone house for a hunting and fishing retreat, as well as a small horse farm. The farm saw many expansions over the years – due to his sons’ interest in livestock, Knapp developed a herd of purebred Hereford cattle, eventually becoming one of the largest cattle ranchers in the Midwest. “Growing up, [my sister Cyndy and I] helped out with the large animals, grooming and preparing the prize-winning bulls and heifers to go to shows all over the USA,” says Steffie Knapp Littlefield, Andrew and Hazel’s granddaughter.
Many of the family’s iconic buildings were built or renovated during its time operating primarily as a ranch, including the Showbarn in 1931 – once housing the herd of show cattle that’s now home to the family’s renovated winery and event space – and the two-story white Granary building, which was the center of making custom feeds to enhance the growth of the cattle.
Edg-Clif’s most recent incarnation came about nearly a decade ago, when Knapp Littlefield and her sister, Cyndy Knapp Keesee, along with their husbands, began to explore the possibility of planting a vineyard on the property. Knapp Littlefield’s degree in agriculture and professional career in horticulture and landscape design inspired her to bring in area experts who helped confirm that the property’s soil and topography were ideal for growing grapes. “The soil was perfect for the versatile French-American hybrid grape Chambourcin, and we planted the first 1,800 vines in 2008,” Knapp Littlefield says. The winery opened in June 2011.
Cyndy and her husband, Girard, are co-owners alongside Knapp Littlefield and her husband, Stephen, and oversee the winemaking process. Edg-Clif’s foray into the winemaking industry was Cyndy’s first exposure into the winemaking process, but she’s learned quite a bit along the way from firsthand exposure, research and educational opportunities including personal consulting and attending local winemaking groups such as the Grape and Wine Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “Cyndy created Twilight, the wine recognized as Best of Class in the rosé category [at The Governor’s Cup Missouri wine competition], and has been featured in several wine publications,” Knapp Littlefield says.
Edg-Clif’s hand-tended vineyards grow three varietals of French-American hybrid grapes, Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc and Vignoles, from which the family creates 13 small-batch wines. “Our largest vineyard of the versatile Chambourcin grapes are used to create eight styles of wine, ranging from a sweet red to a dry, full-bodied red,” Littlefield says. The grape is also grown in Australia, France, New Zealand and Portugal.
“Vidal Blanc was created in the 1930s by French grape breeder Jean-Louis Vidal and is known for its grapefruit and pineapple notes – our dry Vidal Blanc won a gold medal [at The Governor’s Cup Missouri wine competition],” she says. “Vignoles, a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Le Subereux, is highly aromatic, fruity and can make dry and off-dry white wines.”
The bottle labels pay homage to the four-generations-old history of the property: the original 19th-century stone house on the label of the award-winning Starlight sweet white wine, for example, and the Granary barn on the label of the Sunset Chambourcin. The iconic Showbarn provides the inspiration for the sweet Chambourcin Showbarn Red label.
Although a perfectly acceptable way to indulge at the farm, there’s much more to do at Edg-Clif than just sit and sip – the property is also home to biking trails, wedding and event facilities, and a bed-and-breakfast for a weekend getaway. “Edg-Clif brides can choose from four ceremony locations and can start their magical day in the charming stone cottage,” Knapp Littlefield says. “We love creating traditions for families from Kansas City to St. Louis and beyond.”
Edg-Clif is also home to a small-batch craft brewery, with ales, porters and stouts on six taps.
A fourth generation of the Knapp family is hands-on in the family business – Knapp Littlefield’s three daughters, Maggie, Katie and Carolyn, as well as Cyndy’s daughter Rachael, have all been working on the land since they could walk. Katie designed each of the unique vintage barn and heritage labels and manages marketing and social media, Rachael is an apprentice in the brewery, and Carolyn and Maggie have spearheaded the restoration of an 1890’s Victorian farmhouse on the property for a vacation rental property. “From weeding the veggie garden to driving the tractor, the property has always been a family project,” Knapp Littlefield says, ensuring that the land and the family legacy continue for future generations.
Edg-Clif Farms & Vineyard, 10035 Edg-Clif Drive, Potosi, Missouri, 573.438.4741, edg-clif.com