A trip to Cuba could mean a positive change for wineries

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ROCHEPORT - The Show-Me State may soon open up agriculture trading with Cuba. 

More than 95 members of the United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba went made a fact-finding trip to the country last month. 

Thirty of the members who visited were Missouri producers and agriculture leaders. 

Among the delegation was a leading member of the Missouri Wine and Grape board. 

"The discussion centered around which products would be very good for Missouri and for the rest of the United states to trade with Cuba, everything from cattle, to feed, to rice in Missouri, has always been a very big crop, to soy beans and of course wine," Chairman Dr. Peter Hofherr said. 

He said Missouri wine businesses are booming with Missouri tenth in grape growing in the United States and eighth in wine making.

"Our wines are starting to become pretty popular outside of Missouri and Cuba is a major tourism destination for over 170 countries right now, so having our wine in Cuba, I think, would open up a lot of other markets around the world," Hofherr said. 

The vice president of operations of Les Bourgeois Vineyards said sending a delegation to Cuba to better promote their products will be helpful. 

"I think it's very exciting that Missouri sent a delegation to Cuba, especially when you relate it back to Missouri agriculture, even Missouri grape business, we have a lot of opportunities in Missouri to sell wine, and our grape products, you know regionally, nationally, and internationally, so anytime we open up opportunity, is just a good chance that we can increase our business and help our farmers," Cory Bomgaars said.

The Missouri team is the first U.S. state trade delegation to visit since the announcement that the U.S. was working to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. 

There has not been any final decision on whether the trade will occur.