Show Me Missouri Wine


By Cori Solomon


On this episode of Big Blend Radio, award-winning freelance writer and photographer Cori Solomon discusses the history of Missouri wine, and shares her wine tasting experiences on the Hermann Trail, in St. Genevieve and in Augusta.


The wine industry has played a significant role in both the history of Missouri and the United States. Our wine heritage must include Missouri wine because the state was the number one wine producer in our country during the mid-1800s. It was also home to the first AVA in the US Appellation system. After several visits to Missouri, I believe the wine produced has undergone many positive changes.

Although the winemakers seem to prefer creating dry wine, the area catered to those liking sweeter wines. Now the trend has shifted towards dry wines, and the quality has improved.

My visits to Missouri typically involved a dog show, but during a 2010 excursion, I discovered Hermann and St. Genevieve. I returned in 2012 and visited one of my favorite wineries, Röbller, and also learned about Jersey cow cheese. In 2018, I returned to visit four of the five wineries that make up Augusta, our fist AVA.  In 2019 I gave a seminar on Missouri wine to wine writers in Los Angeles. My research for this seminar convinced me that the Missouri wine industry had grown in a new direction. In 2010 I found red varieties like Norton and Chambourcin a little too harsh for my taste, but this changed as the wine today has more character, balance, and smoothness. Could my palate have developed to appreciate these wines or were the wineries producing wines with a more continental style? I opt for the latter.

Missouri Wine History

To understand Missouri wine, one must know its history. In the 1830s, German immigrants from Pennsylvania, decided to settle in the area of Hermann, Missouri. They also settled in Augusta, (then called Mount Pleasant), a riverboat landing along the Missouri River. The area reminded them of their homeland along the Rhine River Valley, and was a fertile area for growing grapes.

Both these areas have original wineries dating back to the 1800s. In Hermann, discover Stone Hill, considered the oldest winery, plus Hermannhof and Adam Puchta. In Augusta, there is Mount Pleasant. Many of these wineries still have their original caves.

In 1851, Missouri wines took gold medals at the Vienna World’s Fair. During this time and until 1880, Missouri was the number one producer of wine. In the 1870s, Missouri scientist Charles Valentine Riley, tested the theory of grafting vinifera vines to American rootstock when Phylloxera devastated the vineyards of France. By the early 1900s, Missouri became the second largest producer of wines.

Missouri was hard hit when prohibition reared its head. The government came in, uprooted vineyards, and confiscated and destroyed equipment. St. Stanislaus Novitiate Jesuits produced sacramental wine. Grape growers and winemakers became mushroom farmers and furniture makers.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the rebirth of commercial wineries started. This period coincides with the revival of the wine industry in California. In 1980, Augusta became the first AVA in the United States. By 2003, Norton is declared Missouri’s official state grape. Today Missouri has 136 wineries, 11 wine trails, and 5 AVAs.

The Missouri River snakes through both Hermann and Augusta, but the soils are very different. Like Bordeaux, with its right and left banks, the Missouri River has different soil types on the north and south sides. Augusta, located on the north side, has soils composed of Hayne Silt-Loam while Hermann’s south side, features soils with rocks and minerals.

Most growers and vintners focus on native American and hybrid grapes that can handle Missouri’s cold, continental climate in the winter, and long hot, humid summers.

Missouri White Grape Varietals
Chardonel: A famous hybrid of Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc that produces a dry, medium bodied wine.

Seyval Blanc: A French-American hybrid, described as Chenin Blanc, meets Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, delivering a clean, crisp medium-bodied wine.

Traminette: A hybrid that exhibits floral aromas with spicy citrus, similar to its parent, Gewurztraminer.

Vidal Blanc: This hybrid delivers a light, clean, and crisp, citrusy wine.

Vignoles: This hybrid is like a German Riesling with tropical fruit flavors.

Missouri Red Grape Varietals
Norton: Also known as Cynthiana, and the native grape of Missouri, produces rich, bold, dry wines.

Chambourcin: This hybrid delivers a fruity/cherry-like, earthy medium-bodied dry red wine.

Concord: A deep purple grape with classic fruity flavor.

Catawba: The grape produces a sweet, fragrant, strawberry-like wine.

St Vincent: Burgundy like delicate, elegant reds or Rosés.

Missouri Wineries

Wineries to visit on the Hermann Trail:
Stone Hill Winery, the oldest winery in Missouri, dates back to 1847. Now owned by the Held Family, this winery affords views of Hermann and houses the oldest stone cave.

Hermannhof Winery, originally a brewery and winery, features ten stone cellars and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Adam Puchta is the oldest family-run winery in Missouri. This more countrified winery, located off the beaten path, opened in 1855. Check out the Ports and Sherry.

Röbller Vineyard Winery is a newer winery dating back to 1987, that combines the traditional Midwest approach to wine-making, with European methods and some nuances of California style.

In St. Genevieve:
Located about an hour south of St. Louis, St. Genevieve was settled by the French in 1750. Here one finds Chaumette Vineyards & Winery which was founded in 1990. One must include a winery luncheon while visiting.

Wineries to visit in Augusta:
Augusta Winery and Montelle Winery are both owned by Tony Kooyumijan. The setting at Montelle affords a picturesque view of the valley, a perfect setting to enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting.

Mount Pleasant is the oldest winery in Augusta, dating back to 1859. This winery, or campus as some call it, features a stone cave and views of the Missouri River Valley. Make sure to try the Tawny Port.

Noboleis was founded in 2005 and is one of the newer wineries in the area. The winery sits on a hill overlooking the Augusta Valley.

When visiting Missouri, one must also take time to visit the charming towns of both Augusta and Hermann. The winery experience is enhanced with a stroll through these towns with their array of antique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and breweries. For those who love sausage and bratwurst, check out Hermann Wurst Haus. For cheese lovers, Cool Cow Cheese is a must. In Hermann, stay at the Inn at Hermannhof and in Augusta, one of the bed and breakfasts. Through this experience, you will be immersed in the history of the Missouri Rhineland.

Plan your Missouri Wine Adventure:
Missouri Wine:
Herman Wine Trail:

Cori Solomon is an award-winning freelance writer/photographer residing in Los Angeles, California. Her writing focuses on travel, art, food, wine, and pets. Cori’s background is real estate and art. Her art plays a role in her writing as she utilizes the palette both visually and verbally in many of her articles. Cori shares her experiences and joy of her subjects in a passionate, candid, caring and entertaining way. Like her animal art where she looks beyond the eyes to find an animal’s inner soul and spirit, Cori looks for the story that is behind the restaurant, chef, winery, winemaker or artist. As Cori often travels with her dogs, some of her travel articles deal with pet-friendly hotels and locations.  Cori Founded LA Wine Writers, a group of seasoned wine writers.  She earned her WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits, received the NASA American Wine Specialist Certification and NASA Spanish Wine Specialist Certification. She is a member of the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA), and Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). Follow her blog at

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

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About the Author:

Cori Solomon is an award-winning freelance writer/photographer residing in Los Angeles, California. Her writing focuses on travel, art, food, wine, and pets.

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