1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3
Cletis Webb started Giggling Grapes Winery this past year after running a successful Kickstarter campaign.
By Luella Fischer
What started out as a hobby has become a family business for Cletis Webb, owner of Giggling Grapes Winery in Linn.
Six years ago, the Webb family started making homemade wine out of cherries they received from Cletis’s mother-in-law. Winemaking soon became the family’s passion.
After doing his homework, Cletis officially received his license to bottle and sell wine in this past October. Now, he travels across the state to competitions and wine tastings to promote his labor of love, but most importantly Cletis still pays attention to the quality of each bottle of Giggling Grapes wine.
“I have a hand in every bottle,” Cletis says, “from hand crushing, to pressing, fermentation and bottling.”
After all, quality is tantamount. If the end product isn’t to the Webbs’ satisfaction, they’ll discard it. The family doesn’t rush the winemaking process, either. While fermentation takes five to seven days, their wine is placed in pressure tanks for five to six months to develop flavor, which helps makes Giggling Grapes such a successful business venture.
“We have seen huge growth in the past nine months,” Cletis says.
In 2013, they bottled 400 gallons, and they plan to bottle over 1,200 gallons this year. Cletis also began his business with zero debt, in part because of the funds he raised with a KickStarter campaign. But he wants to continue to invest in Giggling Grapes.
“Any profit goes right back into growing and expanding our business,” Cletis says.
Part of investing in the winery is expanding the selection. Although they started out making cherry wine, the Webbs now purchase grapes from a vineyard in St. James and offer traditional wines, such as a Riesling and a Catawba. Don’t worry, though; you can still get plenty of fruity varieties: strawberry, pomegranate, raspberry, raspberry-grapefruit, the seasonably available blackberry and elderberry, and of course cherry, which is available seasonally in the fall and sells out quickly.
Recently, Giggling Grapes wine won gold with their Riesling and strawberry wines and was also named the 2014 People's Choice Champion for their Riesling at the 2014 Capital City People’s Choice Wine Competition.
“It is comforting and fulfilling to have both the support of friends and neighbors, knowing that customers thoroughly enjoy the product,” Cletis says.
You can find Giggling Grapes wine on the shelves at Thriftway in Linn, Hyvee in Jefferson City, Macadoodles in Columbia and various locations in Tipton and California, Mo. To view a full list of retailers who sell Giggling Grapes wine, visit http://gigglinggrapeswinery.com/. The Webbs will also be attending other state competitions and wine tastings across the state. Find all their events at www.facebook.com/ggwine.
Luella Fischer enjoys writing and has a passion for cooking and Missouri history. She is also the author of a children’s book series and directs a Missouri Farmers Care agriculture education program where third graders have the opportunity to make bread, plant seeds, and experience food and agriculture hands-on.