Close your eyes and imagine the perfect afternoon. Beautiful scenery, good friends, delicious wine – sounds ideal, right? Now, open your eyes and take a look at a map of Missouri, because this is the place where those perfect afternoons happen ... year-round. Our state’s climate and soil make it a wonderful place to grow grapes.
For decades, Missourians have produced award-winning wines and served them with plenty of warm hospitality. Below we offer just a sampling of what Missouri has to offer. For details on all of Missouri's wineries (more than 120 as of Jan. 2014), visit the Missouri Wine & Grape Board’s website. Please note: It is against Missouri law to carry any outside wine, liquor and beer onto a winery’s property – leave your beverages in the car.
Visit several great wineries when you follow the path of the Hermann Wine Trail. This “trail” stretches 20-miles from Hermann to New Haven, with seven wonderful wineries along the way. Stops include Hermannhof Vineyards, with its 150 year old brick cellars; and Adam Puchta Winery, the oldest continually owned and operated family winery in America.
Wine lovers seeking a hands-on experience should definitely plan a trip to Serenity Valley Winery, 12 miles west of Fulton. Relax with a glass of wine and an appetizer. At this winery, you can make your own wine (complete with original labels); they will teach you how.
At the Branson facility of Mount Pleasant Winery, take a Wine 101 class on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays. You can gain hands-on bottling experience and, of course, taste a variety of award-winning wines. In addition to touring the facilities and tasting award-winning wines, visitors have the opportunity to bottle their own dessert wine from a specially designed 600-gallon French oak barrel. At Mount Pleasant Estates, their main facility, in Augusta, enjoy the huge outdoor, terraced patios; tour the original 1859 limestone cellars; and listen to live music most weekends.
Pair delicious wines with breathtaking scenery at Seven Springs Winery, six miles north of Linn Creek in the Lake of the Ozarks area. Seven Springs offers wine, sangria and craft beers. Enjoy your beverage of choice with an item from the kitchen: the lunch menu includes cheese plates, sandwiches, soups, salads and appetizers; evenings bring such hearty fare as pasta and steaks. Most weekends, spring to fall, feature live music. The winery’s proximity to the Lake of the Ozarks makes it a great stop during a lake vacation.
Want to visit a place that feels like Napa Valley, but without the hefty California price tag? Head to the gorgeous Chandler Hill Vineyards, outside the village of Defiance. This slice of paradise features wines from Missouri, as well as the West Coast. Sip your wine in the large, elegant tasting room or take a seat on the deck that offers a prime view of the vineyards. The restaurant features plenty of perfect food pairings. Free live music gets toes tapping every weekend.
Sure, vines grow in the sunshine, but a very cool part of wine making happens underground. See for yourself at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, where wines age to perfection in cavernous underground cellars. After your subterranean tour, enjoy a glass of Stone Hill wine as you overlook beautiful Hermann. The winery’s Vintage Restaurant serves German and American cuisine for lunch and dinner (reservations highly recommended). Stone Hill has branch locations in New Florence and Branson.
The architecture at Crown Valley Winery is as appealing as the delicious wines. Twenty miles southwest of Ste. Genevieve, this destination features reclaimed stained glass, locally crafted wrought iron and other lovely artisan touches. Sample (and purchase) a variety of Crown Valley wines, including enticing fruit wines, such as blackberry and peach. Four miles east of Crown Valley, Chaumette Vineyards and Winery pairs yummy wines with an on-site spa and elegantly appointed overnight villas for the ultimate in relaxation.
Feel like part of the family when you visit Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery, on the southeastern edge of Excelsior Springs. The friendly folks offer a variety of wines as well as other items to take home, including custom-blended oils and gift baskets. Enjoy a picnic dinner – you can pack your own or the vineyard owners can create one for you – as you sit around the fire pit on a cool night. Kids and pets are welcome at this truly family-friendly vineyard. Take a kite and a Frisbee.
Opened for business November 2012, Apple Creek Vineyard & Winery is five miles northeast of Friedheim (27 miles northwest of Cape Girardeau). Admire the gorgeous views as from the wraparound deck, the elegant tasting room and outdoors along Apple Creek – all overlooking the peaceful countryside.
Editor’s Note: Operating hours change with the seasons and during special events. Please check the business’s website or call for current hours.