Eugene Post Sr., along with wife Peggy, is the founder of Mount Bethel Winery in Altus, Arkansas. The winery operates on the site of the original cellar for the Post Familie Vineyards & Winery, which remains one of the largest wine producers in the state.
Mount Bethel Winery, founded in 1956 and considered third oldest winery in the state of Arkansas, is a family owned and operated business. Three Post brothers Eugene Jr., Michael, and Robert along with father Eugene Post, operate the Mount Bethel winery and vineyards. Many other members of the family are also active winemakers.
Mount Bethel Winery produces a wide variety of wines. They produce classic wines such as Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay. They also produce varieties native to the United States such as Cynthiana (sometimes known as Norton), Muscat, Niagara, Concord, and Muscadine. They produce a full range of fruit wines including Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, Elderberry, Peach, and Wild Plum. They also offer Port wine. Mount Bethel Winery also sells Cynthiana grapevine plants.
The site of the winery is the original family home of the Posts, where Anna Post made and sold wine in the 1880s. Interestingly, the hand-dug cellar under the home is still used by the family for personal storage. Also, the current retail shop, in which wines and other merchandise are sold, is a part of the first building constructed there for winemaking, with walls made of hand-cut stones from the same quarry that provided the stones for St. Mary's Catholic Church on top of St. Mary's Mountain.
The winery holds large wooden storage tanks made of California redwood, which have been used in the winemaking process for over seventy-five years. Eugene Post was said to have purchased these tanks from another winemaker in the state, when he initially started the winery. Though Mount Bethel now uses stainless steel tanks for secondary fermentation, some of the wines are transferred into wooden barrels, made of both American and European oak, for aging.
Many varieties of wine are produced by Mount Bethel, ranging from the gamut from dry native wines to the sweet wines of the family vineyard to fruit wines. It is worty to note that both regional and national competitions have awarded medals to wines from Mount Bethel. The winery's elderberry wine is especially notable. Mount Bethel is the only winery in the state to make use of this native, wild berry.
Mount Bethel wines can be found at Arka Valley, De Salvo's Bottle Shop, Keels Creek, Hot Springs Winery, Fresh Market, West Side Liquor, Circle S Food Store and Speed, Circle S Bluff, and Porky's One Stop.
Mount Bethel Winery has its roots in the grape growing regions of Europe. In the early 1880's, ancestors of the Post family brought to Arkansas, the tradition of growing grapes and venting wines. One of the stopping places of the train running westward across the United States was the town of Altus, Arkansas, a thriving coal mining community in the Arkansas River valley. The Post family found Altus to be the perfect place to live and to grow grapes. What started as a personal way of life became a business when the public discovered the wine making skills of Jacob Post. Although the prohibition years or 1918 through 1934 halted wine sales, it did not stop legal wine making for personal consumption by the Post family.
At the end of prohibition, in 1935, Mrs. Joseph (Katherine) Post, daughter-in-law of Jacob Post, acquired a federal bonded winery permit and an Arkansas license to manufacture and sell wine. After Katherine's death, Eugene earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Arkansas, with the goal of merging the time-honored family wine making methods with modern technical knowledge. In 1956, he chose to open his winery in the old underground cellars of the original Mrs. Joseph Post Winery where the Post family wine making tradition had its roots. He purchased the family homestead with the cellars and the vineyard land from his mother. In 1984, Mount Bethel grape growing area received federal designation as the Altus Viticultural Area.
The father of Eugene's wife, Russel Murray helped his son-in-law and his daughter, Peggy with his invaluable engineering and design skills enabled them to construct fermenting and bottling facilities. Their children grew up making wine. Debbie, Mary Jane, Eugene, Jr., Linda, Janet, Michael, Peggy Ann, and Robert pruned, hoed, plowed, tied, cut and fermented the grapes.
- Nancy Cole, "Elderberries Give Winery Flavor; Hardy, Native Crop Near Altus Produces Ancient Beverage," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 11, 2006.