Meyer Farms Winery: Gentle Giant Ken Meyer Produces Local Wines

Article and Photography by Kim Blevins

You’d pretty much have to live under a rock not to know who Ken Meyer is.  Honored as “Outstanding Missourian” in 2007 by the Missouri House of Representatives, Meyer is the owner of radio stations KTXR, KWTO, Jock Sports and KBFL, a stalwart MSU supporter and alum, and his list of contributions to the Springfield community is a mile long. Something not as well- known is that he owns a flourishing vineyard in nearby Lawrence County and Meyer Farms Wines can be purchased right here in Springfield. Ken grows grapes on the family farm near Mt. Vernon, a place where he worked for his grandpa as a child (see sidebar for more history).

Meyer Farms Wines are named in honor of women in the Meyer family. Jana, produced from Norton grapes, is a full-bodied, dry red wine. Janie, from Vignole grapes, is a semi-sweet white wine. The Catawba blend is named Connie, a medium-bodied rose’. The Seyval Blanc blend, called Sophie, is a a light-bodied sweet white. Joy, made from a Chambourcin blend, is a medium-bodied sweet red. A Moscato is planned but the newest addition is called “Damned Dog,” an interesting name with a funny story behind it. Ken’s wife, Jane, had a basset hound named Otto whom she loved but Ken wasn’t as enamored. He said the “damned dog tried to trip me” so much that the dog began answering to it. Not so much a problem until the dog would run off in the neighborhood forcing Jane to walk around Southern Hills calling him by that name.

For more information on Meyer Farm wines, tours and tastings go to


History of the Meyer Farms Vineyard

In the 1800’s Christopher Roethemeier left the Alsace-Lorraine region of Germany and settled in Lawrence County, Missouri. There he built a home near Freistatt and began farming grain and dairy.

In 1918 his son Edward purchased 280 acres in Lawrence County, and the land was just 4 miles northeast of the village of Freistatt. Edward was one of the first farmers in the region to begin cultivating grapes to bottle and sell as wine. Much like others in Missouri at the time, selling wine was a profitable business for Edward until the beginning of Prohibition. However, unlike the rest of Missouri (and to the chagrin of at least one sister-in-law), Prohibition did not affect Edward’s business. As the story is told, he pointed out to many that the law was written in English and he could only read German. Because of this “language barrier,” selling wine continued for several more years.

In 1925, Edna Sophie Roethemeier married Emil John Meyer. The newlyweds moved into the original homestead built by Christopher Roethemeier, which was on 160 acres of fertile Lawrence County soil. Edna and Emil had four children, the eldest being Kenneth Edward Meyer.

As a child, Ken Meyer spent many hours in his Grandfather Roethemeier’s vineyard, picking grapes for pocket money. He never realized this chore would provide the memory that would become the driving force behind Meyer Farms Wine.

Meyer Farms began in 2007 with Vignoles, Norton, and Seyval Blanc. Now the vineyard cultivates 30 acres, adding Catawba, Chambourchin, and Muscat Valvin (a hybrid grape developed at Cornell University).