Missouri wineries are an essential part of the state’s history and culture. Missouri’s winemaking industry dates back to the early 1800s and has grown significantly over the years. The state has a unique climate that is ideal for growing certain grape varietals, resulting in some truly exceptional wines.
In this post, we will explore the fascinating history of Missouri wineries, the different types of wines produced in the state, and the best wineries to visit. We will also discuss the various wine trails in Missouri and provide tips for planning a successful trip to wine country.
Missouri’s winemaking industry has a rich and complex history that is worth exploring. Early winemakers in Missouri faced numerous challenges, including disease and harsh weather conditions. Despite these challenges, the industry persisted and grew, attracting German immigrants who brought with them their winemaking traditions and expertise.
Today, Missouri wineries produce a wide variety of wines, ranging from dry reds to sweet whites. The state’s signature wine varietal is Norton, a grape that is well-suited to Missouri’s climate and soil. Other popular varietals include Chambourcin, Vignoles, and Catawba.
Missouri wineries are not just about the wine, however. Many of them offer beautiful views, delicious food, and fun events and activities. Whether you are a wine enthusiast or simply looking for a fun day trip or weekend getaway, Missouri wineries have something to offer.
So, let’s grab a glass of wine and dive into the fascinating world of Missouri wineries!
History of Missouri Wineries
The history of Missouri wineries is a long and complex one that dates back to the early 1800s. The state’s first commercial vineyard was established in Hermann, Missouri, in 1837, and by the late 1800s, Missouri was the second-largest wine-producing state in the country, after California.
One of the earliest challenges facing Missouri winemakers was the prevalence of phylloxera, a pest that attacks grapevines. This led to the destruction of many vineyards in the late 1800s, but the industry rebounded in the early 1900s with the introduction of grafted rootstock that was resistant to phylloxera.
In the early days of Missouri winemaking, the industry was dominated by European immigrants, particularly Germans. These early winemakers brought with them their winemaking traditions and expertise, which helped to establish Missouri as a key player in the American wine industry.
One of the most famous Missouri winemakers was George Husmann, who was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in the mid-1800s. Husmann was instrumental in establishing the Missouri grape industry, and he wrote numerous books and articles on the subject, including “The Cultivation of the Native Grape, and Manufacture of American Wines.”
Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933, was a major setback for the Missouri wine industry, as it was for winemakers across the country. Many wineries were forced to shut down during this time, and some never reopened.
Today Missouri wineries continued to thrive, and today the state is home to over 130 wineries. Missouri’s unique climate, with its hot summers and cold winters, is ideal for growing certain grape varietals, particularly Norton. The state’s winemakers have also experimented with other grape varietals, resulting in a wide range of wines that are unique to Missouri.
Wines Produced in Missouri
Missouri wineries produce a wide variety of wines, from sweet to dry, red to white, and everything in between. Some of the most popular types of wines produced in Missouri include:
- Norton: Norton is the official state grape of Missouri, and it’s used to make bold, full-bodied red wines with flavors of blackberry and black cherry.
- Chambourcin: Chambourcin is a French-American hybrid grape that’s grown throughout the Midwest. It’s used to make medium-bodied red wines with flavors of blackberry, cherry, and spice.
- Vignoles: Vignoles is a white grape that’s used to make a range of wines, from dry to sweet. It’s often used to make dessert wines, as it has a high sugar content and a distinctive honey-like flavor.
- Seyval Blanc: Seyval Blanc is a white grape that’s commonly used to make dry white wines. It has a crisp, clean flavor with notes of citrus and green apple.
- Catawba: Catawba is a grape that’s native to the Eastern United States, and it’s used to make sweet rosé wines with flavors of strawberry and grapefruit.
In addition to these grape varietals, Missouri wineries also produce fruit wines made from locally-grown fruits like blackberry, raspberry, and peach. These wines are often sweet and fruity, and they’re a popular choice for those who prefer sweeter wines.
Wines produced in Missouri reflect the state’s unique climate and growing conditions, as well as the creativity and innovation of the state’s winemakers. Whether you prefer red, white, sweet, or dry wines, you’re sure to find something to love among Missouri’s diverse selection of wines.
Best Missouri Wineries to Visit
Missouri has a rich history of winemaking, and there are many wineries throughout the state that are worth visiting. Here are some of the best Missouri wineries to add to your itinerary:
- Stone Hill Winery: Located in Hermann, Stone Hill Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Missouri, dating back to 1847. They offer a wide range of wines, from dry reds to sweet whites, and their tasting room is housed in a beautiful stone building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Les Bourgeois Vineyards: Les Bourgeois Vineyards is located in Rocheport and offers stunning views of the Missouri River. They have a variety of wines available, including a popular Norton red wine and a crisp Vignoles white wine.
- Augusta Winery: Augusta Winery is located in the charming town of Augusta, which is known for its picturesque vineyards and historic downtown area. The winery has won numerous awards for its wines, which include Chambourcin, Vignoles, and a popular dry Rosé.
- Montelle Winery: Montelle Winery is located in the heart of the Augusta wine region and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. They specialize in dry wines, including a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Norton Reserve.
- Adam Puchta Winery: Adam Puchta Winery is located in the historic town of Hermann and has been family-owned and operated since 1855. They offer a range of wines, including a popular sweet Catawba and a dry Chardonel.
Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or just enjoy trying new things, these Missouri wineries are sure to impress. Be sure to schedule a tasting or tour during your visit to experience the best of Missouri’s wine culture.
Missouri Wine Trails
One of the best ways to explore Missouri wineries is by following one of the many wine trails in the state. Here are some of the top Missouri wine trails to check out:
- Hermann Wine Trail: The Hermann Wine Trail is one of the most popular wine trails in Missouri, featuring seven wineries located along the Missouri River. This trail is known for its picturesque scenery and charming small town atmosphere.
- Missouri River Wine Trail: The Missouri River Wine Trail includes six wineries located along the Missouri River, from Hermann to Boonville. This trail offers stunning views of the river and its surrounding bluffs, as well as a wide range of wine varietals to taste.
- Augusta Wine Trail: The Augusta Wine Trail features several wineries located in the charming town of Augusta, which is known for its historic architecture and stunning countryside. This trail offers a mix of traditional and contemporary wineries, each with their own unique charm.
- Route du Vin Wine Trail: The Route du Vin Wine Trail features six wineries located in the rolling hills of Ste. Genevieve County. This trail is known for its rich history and scenic beauty, as well as its award-winning wines.
- Ozark Mountain Wine Trail: The Ozark Mountain Wine Trail includes several wineries located in the scenic Ozark Mountains, near Branson. This trail offers a mix of traditional and boutique wineries, each with their own unique character and charm.
No matter which Missouri wine trail you choose, you’re sure to experience the best of Missouri’s wine culture, from scenic vineyards to award-winning wines. Be sure to plan ahead and schedule tastings and tours in advance to make the most of your wine trail experience.
Wine and Food Pairings
Missouri wineries not only offer great wine but also some of the best food pairings to go with it. Here are some wine and food pairings to consider when visiting a Missouri winery:
- Chardonnay: Chardonnay is a full-bodied white wine that pairs well with rich, creamy dishes like pasta with Alfredo sauce or grilled chicken with a creamy sauce. It also pairs well with seafood like lobster, crab, or shrimp.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine that pairs well with hearty dishes like grilled steak, roast beef, or lamb. It also pairs well with rich, flavorful sauces and aged cheeses.
- Norton: Norton is Missouri’s signature grape and produces a medium to full-bodied red wine with a distinct earthy flavor. This wine pairs well with grilled meats, barbecue, and spicy dishes like chili or Cajun gumbo.
- Vignoles: Vignoles is a semi-sweet white wine that pairs well with spicy dishes, Thai cuisine, or light seafood dishes like grilled shrimp or scallops.
- Concord: Concord is a sweet red wine that pairs well with desserts like chocolate cake, fruit tarts, or berry pies.
When visiting a Missouri winery, don’t be afraid to ask the staff for their recommendations on wine and food pairings. They may have special dishes or local cuisine that pairs perfectly with their wines. Additionally, many wineries offer food pairings as part of their tasting experience, giving visitors the opportunity to try new and exciting flavor combinations.
Wine Festivals and Events
Missouri is home to several wine festivals and events throughout the year. These events are a great way to discover new wines, meet winemakers, and experience the best of Missouri wine country. Here are some of the top wine festivals and events in Missouri:
- Hermann Wine and Jazz Festival: This annual event is held in the charming town of Hermann, Missouri, and features live jazz music and tastings from several local wineries.
- Missouri Wine Wobble: The Missouri Wine Wobble is a 5K race through scenic vineyards, followed by a wine tasting event. This unique event combines fitness with wine, making it a must-attend for fitness enthusiasts and wine lovers alike.
- Augusta Wine and Beer Festival: This festival is held in the picturesque town of Augusta, Missouri, and features tastings from several local wineries and breweries. Visitors can enjoy live music, food, and beautiful views of the Missouri River Valley.
- St. Charles Oktoberfest: St. Charles is a historic town located just outside of St. Louis and is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration. This festival features traditional German food, music, and beer, as well as local wines from Missouri wineries.
- Missouri Wine and Grape Board Festival: This festival is held in Jefferson City, Missouri, and features tastings from several local wineries, as well as educational seminars and workshops on wine and grape growing.
These are just a few of the many wine festivals and events in Missouri. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a casual wine drinker, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Missouri wine country.
Tips for Visiting Missouri Wineries
If you’re planning a trip to visit Missouri wineries, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:
Plan ahead: Check the winery’s website or call ahead to make sure they’re open for tastings and tours. Some wineries may have limited hours or require reservations, especially during peak seasons.
- Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather, as some tastings and tours may be outdoors.
- Bring a designated driver: It’s important to have a designated driver or arrange for transportation to and from the wineries, as drinking and driving is never a safe option.
- Bring a picnic: Many wineries have beautiful outdoor spaces where you can enjoy a picnic lunch or snack. Check with the winery beforehand to see if they allow outside food and beverages.
- Ask questions: Winery staff are knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you may have about the wines, the winemaking process, and the history of the winery.
- Pace yourself: It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of trying new wines, but remember to pace yourself and drink plenty of water. You don’t want to overindulge and ruin your experience.
- Take in the scenery: Missouri wine country is known for its beautiful scenery, so take the time to explore the vineyards and surrounding area.
You can have a safe and enjoyable experience visiting Missouri wineries. Remember to drink responsibly and have fun exploring all that Missouri wine country has to offer.
Grab a Glass of Missouri Wine!
Missouri wineries offer a unique and enjoyable experience for wine lovers and visitors alike. With a rich history, diverse wine offerings, and stunning scenery, Missouri wine country has something for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or simply looking for a fun weekend activity, a visit to Missouri wineries is sure to please.
From the historic Hermann Wine Trail to the picturesque Augusta Wine Trail, there are plenty of options to explore the best Missouri wineries. Be sure to plan ahead, dress appropriately, and bring a designated driver to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. And don’t forget to take in the scenery and ask questions – the staff at Missouri wineries are passionate and knowledgeable about their craft, and love to share their expertise with visitors.
Missouri wineries offer a unique and memorable experience that should not be missed. So grab a glass of your favorite Missouri wine, sit back, and enjoy all that this beautiful state has to offer. Cheers!