Great wineries are found in every region of Missouri, along city streets and winding country roads, on perches overlooking running rivers and set amid peaceful valleys. In short, no matter where your travels take you, you’re never far from a relaxing experience at a Missouri winery.
St. James Winery is located just off historic Route 66 (Interstate 44) in St. James. Missouri’s top producer makes some 500,000 gallons of estate-bottled wines each year and is consistently one of Missouri’s most-honored wineries. In fact, in April 2014, their Friendship School White earned Grand Champion honors at the 2014 Pacific Rim Wine Competition, held in San Bernardino, Calif. It’s another tip of the cap to winemaker Andrew Meggitt, who hails from New Zealand and has been with St. James Winery for more than a decade.
A little more than an hour north of St. James winery, near the banks of the Maries River, The Norton Room at the Westphalia Inn serves 10 wines crafted by Terry Neuner, a retired chemist-turned-winemaker. The Norton Room is located on the top floor of the Westphalia Inn, a former hotel that’s now a restaurant. The Norton Room, a showcase for the Neuner family’s Westphalia Vineyards, is known for its Norton Reserve, an award-winning dry red wine made from the official state grape of Missouri.
At Baltimore Bend Vineyard, near the Missouri River town of Waverly, experience a beautiful country setting while enjoying their wines, made from eight grape varieties. Among the selections are the exquisite 2010 Norton Reserve and the 2010 Chambourcin, along with the fruit-inspired Jubilee (a crisp apple wine made from locally grown apples) and the popular Just Peachy, which is made with, you guessed it, peaches.
Just a note, your trip from Westphalia to Waverly takes about two hours; along the way, you’ll pass Canterbury Hill Winery and restaurant, three miles north of Jefferson City; Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery at the I-70 Rocheport exit (their terraced, outdoor A-Frame and their bluff-top Bistro Restaurant are just two miles down Route BB); and you’ll wind up just about 10 minutes from Terre Beau Winery in Dover. See what we mean about never being far from a great Missouri winery?
In northeast Missouri, plan a trip to downtown Macon and a stop at West Winery, where the casual atmosphere welcomes wine aficionados and novices alike. The editors at Rural Missouri magazine honored West Winery with their pick for Missouri’s top winery in 2013. West offers a good selection of grape wines, along with wines made from pears, apples and plums.
In the southwest region, soak up the peaceful country setting at Bear Creek Wine Company in Walnut Shade. They feature a selection of Missouri wines in their rustic Hideaway tasting room, about 10 minutes north of downtown Branson. If you like dry wines, their Bear’s Breath is a must-try. While you’re enjoying time in the Hideaway, sample goodies such as Askinosie Chocolates (from Springfield) and consider booking an overnight stay in the lodge or cabins at Bear Creek Bed and Breakfast.
Of course, when it comes to a well-rounded Missouri wine trip, the experience should include three of the most well-known wine regions in the state: Augusta, Hermann and Ste. Genevieve.
Augusta Winery has racked up more medals than Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps (lots more). It is located within the first designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the country; yes, before the one in Napa, Calif. Their tasting/sales area is open year-round, with the added pleasure of an outdoor patio when the weather is right. Augusta Winery, a stop on the Missouri Weinstrasse Wine Trail, features live music on many weekends.
Hermann has its Hermann Wine Trail, featuring such names as Stone Hill Winery and Adam Puchta Winery. Both have a gift shop. A visit to Stone Hill includes the opportunity to sample wines and take a tour of their massive underground cellars. Established in 1855, Adam Puchta is the oldest continuously owned and operated family winery in the U.S.
In the area around Ste. Genevieve – a city on the Route Du Vin Wine Trail – wineries come in all sizes and offer a variety of amenities. Sixteen miles south of Ste. Gen, the cozy tasting room at Cave Vineyard Winery, is situated atop a cave that has seating for visitors, offering a unique winery experience. In the city’s historic downtown, Ste. Genevieve Winery features 22 handcrafted wines, served in a circa 1900 home that’s just blocks from some of the oldest homes (think circa 1790) in the U.S.
If you’re thirsty for more (see what we did there?), the folks at St. Louis-based Feast TV focused on Missouri’s wineries in their May 2014 episode – watch it by clicking here.
So there’s a sampling of just a few of Missouri’s 125-plus wineries. Remember operating dates and times vary by location and by season, so it’s a good idea to verify hours before visiting.