Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Where Y’Eat: New Era for Louisiana Wine Takes Root

 A dinner by the tasting room at Wild Bush Farm & Vineyard
Ian McNulty
A dinner by the tasting room at Wild Bush Farm & Vineyard

The finish line for a recent road trip to the north shore was an old destination with a new name and a very different path ahead.

For many years, people have been driving out past Covington to Bush, a dot on the rural map that’s been home to Pontchartrain Vineyards, with its tasting room and its outdoor music series. Today, the same property is called Wild Bush Farm & Vineyard and it’s out to change the way people think about wine from Louisiana.

The property looks like a piece of wine country transported to the Bayou State. And right now, Wild Bush is making wine that was literally transported from West Coast wine country and finished and bottled here, poured in the tasting room and sold in small batch quantities under the Wild Bush label. These taste like the fine California and Oregon wines that, in fact, they are.

But in the near future, Wild Bush will produce wine entirely on-site.

The grapes that have historically been able to contend with our climate tend toward the sweet, like muscadine. They're more often the subject of folksy family tales of grandpa’s winemaking endeavors than regaled vintages.

But with newly developed hybrid grapes and a different outlook on wine in general, Wild Bush is poised to be a showcase for Louisiana wine aligned with changing modern tastes. They’re now replanting and reviving the old vine rows with grapes bred to resemble familiar varietals, like cabernet, chardonnay and zinfandel, but that can tolerate our climate.

In a few years, these will be ready for the glass. In the meantime, Wild Bush is experimenting with other wine types that are getting more attention now – like naturally sparkling, wild-tasting pet nats, aromatized wines and orange wines. And, Wild Bush has brought back things that always worked for its predecessor, like that music series Jazz’n the Vines, which continues this month and next.

As those vines mature, and as Wild Bush produces more and different styles, this north shore destination could just change Louisiana wine from a punch line to a call for another glass… and you know what? I’m here for it.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.