The Missouri Weinstrasse

Wine, Beer, and the hard stuff
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The Missouri Weinstrasse

Post by bbattle » March 29th 2020, 2:59pm

I lived 11 years in central Missouri, not too far from Hermann, Missouri, home to the wine district. Hybrid grapes, mostly sweet wines, the occasional gems, and a lot of fun are to be had touring the Missouri Weinstrasse.

Wine tastings in the offseason are pretty much one on one affairs and the pour is liberal.

I always enjoyed touring the Missouri wine district, the WeinStrasse, they now call it. Tastings used to be free, until there got to be too many freeloaders. When I would go back to Mo. to visit my dad I'd hit the wineries. This was in the middle of winter and I'd often be served by the owner. They'd tell me about all their wines, what was going well, not so well, etc. I'd end up buying more than I planned but it never went to waste.

(I once carried 26 cases back home)

The hybrid grapes and temperamental weather of Missouri meant that the wines changed a lot from year to year. Most of what they made was the sweeter varieties which sold in great quantities to the unwashed. Their dry wines were their pride and joy as they were harder to get to a high level. So it was a treasure hunt to find the gems. That meant a lot of driving and a lot of tasting. But you could easily hit over 20 vineyards in a day.

The Seyval was the main white varietal but it's been replaced in many places by the new hybrid Chardonel. There's the Vignole and the Vidal white grapes, too.

The number one red grape is the one known on the right bank of the Missouri as Norton; on the other side of the river they call it Cynthiana. There's also the Chambourcin. And some other grapes like Mourvedre and Cabernet Franc. The last time I visited Augusta, somebody was growing Cabernet Sauvignon. They had to cover the vines in the winter with bales of hay. I don't know how successful they are.

Thirty-five years ago, when I started visiting the wine district as a college student, there were maybe 20 wineries and most of them were very small. Now, there's a bajillion of them, some pretty good, some pretty bad. But that's me comparing their dry wines. The sweeter stuff is much easier to make and the clientele not so discerning so these "other" wineries manage to get by. Hopefully, they'll improve their skills.

Hermann, Missouri is the epicenter of the wine district and home to Stone Hill Winery, Hermannhof and Adam Puchta wineries. The first two are in town, Puchta is a short drive to the west. Berger is a tiny town to the east of Hermann that is home to Bias Vineyards. While not all of their wines were to my liking, the owner was a wonderful man and I could always find something to like. Plus, the cats had the run of the place and they used a team of horses to haul a wagon around to harvest the grapes.

Now, they've got microbreweries adding to the fun and the Katy trail runs right through the wine district. The Katy is a pedestrian cycling trail that runs all the way across the state along a defunct rail line. You can rent a bicycle, ride from winery to brewhouse until you've had enough, then call and get a ride back to the hotel.

Augusta is a tiny little village on the other side of the river that has three wineries, brewhouses down by the bicycle trail, and some antique shops. The village overlooks the Missouri River and is a great place for a picnic. ... -282028037

Anyhow, reading Koi's topic about some New Zealand wines got me thinking about Missouri wines and this post just happened. The whole Midwest is covered in wineries boasting the same hybrid grapes so it shouldn't be a long drive to find one or two.

edit: I forgot that Oktoberfest is a huge affair and there is a lot of drinking going on throughout the district. Lots of good food, too. Stone Hill has a German restaurant and most of the wineries are grilling bratwurst and serving sauerkraut and pan-fried potatoes. Hermann has a meat store that sells 70 or so sausages, bacon, hams, etc. and they have free samples. Husbands can hang out there while the wives go shopping.
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