In June 2005 I visited Missouri. St. Louis is a great weekend getaway on its own merits: history, shopping, wonderful ethnic dining (especially the Italian food on The Hill), the Cardinals, the Arch, and even gambling if you are so inclined. Throw in wine tasting and you have an empty-nester’s getaway par excellence. Head west on scenic Highway 94 from U.S. 40 and you will parallel the Missouri River and Missouri’s wonderful Katy Trail: a hiking and bicycling tour that spans across most of the state.
The Missouri Weinstrasse, or wine road, includes four family owned and operated
wineries: Sugar Creek, Montelle, Augusta, and Blumenhof, which stretch from historic St. Charles county to the Washington bridge. Originally settled in the early 1800’s by German immigrants seeking to duplicate their Rhineland from the old country, the Missouri valley is actually home to thirteen wineries if you traveled all the way to the town of Herman. Herman holds a great Oktoberfest each year.
Sugar Creek Winery will be your first stop: watch for bicyclists as you cross over the railroad tracks and up the hill. Ken and Becky Miller specialize in dry, semi-dry, and fruit wines and often serve on a beautiful outdoor patio with a view. Live music is offered weekends from April through October. We especially enjoyed Michel’s Signature Red, a Merlot-style wine, La Rustica White, a blend of Seyval and Vidal that starts sweet and finishes dry, and Boone Country White, a Riesling-style wine. Yes, Daniel Boone lived near here, too. 314-987-2400.
Montelle Winery made one of the most unique ‘heartland’ wines we have tasted: a Dry Vignoles. Resembling a very high quality Chenin Blanc or Vouvray, this wine excels with any food you would enjoy with white wines. We learned later this wine won a silver medal at the New World International Wine Competition. 1-888-595-WINE.
The town of Augusta was next and it was one of the most scenic on the trip. Founded in 1836 on bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, the home of Augusta winery is undergoing a sort of ‘rural renewal’. We were ready for red wines to accompany the delicious crusty breads we purchased across the street at The Bread Shed. 314-228-4121.
We found two wines that were especially noteworthy. Chambourcin
and Cynthiana are hybrid grapes which can grow and flourish in our river valleys in the midwest and midsouth. Augusta’s Chambourcin was dry, rich, and full-bodied. The Cynthiana was very nearly world-class: intense, mouth filling, and tasting of its oak barrel aging, a wine for the Cabernet lover looking for something a little different. 1-888-MOR-WINE.
Certainly our friendliest stop, Blumenhof Winery was hosted this day by James Blumenberg, owner and frequent visitor to Europe and Germany. He pegged me immediately as a Bavarian (funloving and expressive). Located outside of Missouri’s oldest German settlement, Dutzow, this picturesque winery produces such wines as Seyval, two Vidal Blancs including a vintage reserve, and Chardonel, a very tasty clone of Chardonnay.
Their version of Vignoles is sweeter than that of Montelle, but was no less satisfying. 1-800-419-2245.
By this time, we were ready to head back to the hotel and swing south through Washington, Missouri, and then east to St. Louis.
Have you travelled the Missouri wine road?