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Wine Travel – America’s First Wine Country

Posted in : wine on by : Dale Thompson

America’s rich tradition in winemaking began in 1800 when European immigrants came to America and brought their skills to many areas that were not yet settled. Just a few decades ago, California and other west coast wine-producing States had been settled. However, many eastern and central states had vibrant wine industries. A group made up of German immigrants arrived west of St. Louis to find the Missouri River Valley, which is near Hermann, Missouri in the 1830s.

These early settlers were struck by the similarities between the climate and topography in the river valley and their European homes of Germany or Switzerland. Numerous grape varieties were discovered growing on the hillsides near Hermann. The founding fathers and town leaders encouraged further cultivation, and eventually wine production. The prolific grape crop combined with the wine making skills of the settler created America’s first wine region.

After Prohibition ended wine production was once again possible. In Missouri, there have been more than 75 wineries since 1960. This wine region is situated on a 20-mile stretch just outside of St. Louis. It boasts seven wineries, historic villages, and is less than an hour from St. Louis. Visitors who love wine trails and wine traveling are drawn to this region for their stunning scenery and award-winning wines.

Missouri is well-known for its deep, rich red wine. Its wines are usually made from traditional grape varieties, such as Norton or Chambourcin. These grapes are used to make award-winning Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignons and Burgundy wines by the wineries of this region. These wineries produce wines that are clean and deliciously crisp, such as rieslings.

A visit to St. Louis usually starts with a wine tour of the central Missouri wine trails. Travel west from St. Louis on Interstate 44 to Missouri Highway 100. From there, continue on Highway 100 20 miles to New Haven. This charming village is at the eastern tip of the wine trails and is home the historic Robller Winery and Vineyard, which boasts a stunning view of the Missouri River valley.

Bommarito Almond Tree Winery lies just west from New Haven. You can find it on your route towards Hermann. They also produce a savory-award winning port. Bias Vineyards and Winery are located just a few miles west. They have a microbrewery and vineyard, making them the 2nd largest such operation in the United States. Bias River Blush Rouge is an easy-to-drink, friendly blush.

There are four wineries that you can visit in the Hermann area to sample Missouri wine. Stone Hill and Oakglenn wineries, Adam Puchta and Hermannhof offer wine tasting, winery tours, as well as scenic views. Each winery offers a variety of tastings, so take your time and enjoy the various offerings. Oakglenn’s spicy Chambourcin is a favourite, as was Stone Hill’s Vidal White. Stone Hill, Hermannhof and Hermannhof deserve to be seen not only for the fine wines, but also for their historical settings.

The picturesque Missouri town of Hermann is the highlight of the wine trail’s western end. This charming town has historic architecture, local restaurants, as well as specialty shops. It’s a great place to spend the evening and to participate in one or more of the many local events. Hermann is also well-known for its easy connection to the Katy Bike Trail through the Missouri river Valley.