When it comes to wine regions, the area just west of St. Louis, Missouri, doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. Places like Napa Valley in California and the Finger Lakes region of New York receive more attention. However, Missouri is actually home to the oldest American Viticulture Area (AVA), the Augusta AVA. Although the state’s winemaking plummeted during Prohibition, it has come back strong in the century since and Missouri now boasts a number of exceptional wineries. Many are just a short trek away from St. Louis. The following are two of the best:
Blumenhof Vineyards and Winery
A family-owned winery in the charming historic town of Dutzow, Blumenhof Vineyards and Winery creates wines exclusively from grapes grown in Missouri. The winery was founded by the Blumenhof family three generations ago and has become the most-awarded winery sourcing its grapes entirely from those grown in-state. It is located within an hour from St. Louis.
Blumenhof Vineyards and Winery’s award-winning wines include the 2015 Cabernet Franc, which won Best of Class and earned 94 points at the 2018 Los Angeles International Wine Competition. This dry red wine features firm tannins and flavors of dried fruit and roasted pepper.
The winery’s other red wines include the 2017 Chambourcin, which resembles the wines from France’s southern Rhône Valley, and the 2017 Original Cyn. The latter is made with Cynthiana grapes, Missouri’s state grape and one of the oldest native North American grapes still cultivated commercially. For a sweeter wine similar to port, visitors should try the Devil’s Den Red, which is a blend of Cynthiana and Chambourcin grapes.
Blumenhof Vineyards and Winery’s award-winning white wines include the 2018 Valvin Muscat, which boasts flavors of fruit and citrus. Vintages of this wine have received multiple awards, including the Governor’s Cup for Best Missouri Wine for the 2010 vintage.
Another exceptional white wine is the 2018 Utopia. Aged in stainless steel tanks, this dry Vignoles features a unique pineapple flavor, and the label includes a painting of the vineyard by Billyo O’Donnell, a local landscape artist.
Blumenhof Vineyards and Winery offers free tastings every day, and visitors can sample wines on a terrace in the summer or inside by the fireplace in winter. In addition to offering tastings, the winery hosts live music and other events throughout the year. To learn more about Blumenhof Vineyards and Winery, visit www.blumenhof.com.
Located west of St. Louis in the beautiful town of Augusta, Montelle Winery sits on a ridge 500 feet above the Missouri River and offers visitors spectacular views of rolling hills and the river valley below. The winery was founded in 1970 by Clayton Byers, one of the pioneers in the region who revived the local wine industry.
Montelle Winery produces a number of award-winning wines, including a Chambourcin. The 2017 vintage of this wine won the Silver Medal at the 2018 Jefferson Cup Invitational, the 2019 Missouri Wine Competition, and the 2019 Mid-American Wine Competition. The latest vintage is a dry wine with soft tannins and a bouquet of licorice, blackberry, and cassis. Another award-winning wine is the 2016 Norton, which took home the Bronze Medal at both the 2019 Missouri Wine Competition and the 2019 Mid-American Wine Competition.
Montelle Winery also regularly wins awards for its outstanding white wines, including the 2018 Seyval Blanc, which won three medals in 2019: Gold Medals at the Jefferson Cup Invitational and the Missouri Wine Competition and a Silver Medal at the Mid-American Wine Competition. This dry white wine features a bouquet of citrus, gooseberry, and tropical fruits and goes well on its own or paired with seafood and shellfish.
Montelle Winery’s other award-winning white wines include the 2018 Dry Vignoles. Winner of the Gold Medal at the 2019 Jefferson Cup Invitational, this off-dry wine boasts aromas of fresh pineapple, melon, lime, and wild strawberries.
Montelle Winery also makes an award-winning Rosé called La Rosée, which took home both the Best of Class and Gold Medal at the 2019 Missouri Wine Competition. Made from St. Vincent and Chambourcin grapes, La Rosée offers unique aromas of mulberry, cranberry, and raspberry.
The winery also produces a number of fruit wines, including Peachy, made entirely from peaches. Winner of the Silver Medal at the 2019 Missouri Wine Competition, this wine goes well with dessert or in a spritzer served with crushed ice. Another award-winning fruit wine is the Strawberry, which won the Silver Medal at the 2018 Missouri Wine Competition. This wine smells just like wild strawberries and also makes a refreshing drink when served over crushed ice.
Another wine that goes well with dessert is the 2013 Cynthiana Port, which received 89 points from wine review site JamesSuckling.com and won the Bronze Medal at the 2019 Missouri Wine Competition. This full-bodied Port pairs well with cheeses and nuts.
Visitors can sample these and other wines in Montelle’s tasting room or out on the deck, which offers beautiful views of the Missouri River Valley. Visitors can pair their wines with a variety of food items, including gourmet wraps, pizzas, and salads made on-site at Klondike Café. The winery also offers dinner in the Parliament Room on Saturday evenings and hosts local musicians on weekends throughout the year. To learn more about Montelle Winery, visit www.montelle.com.