To most, the mention of a trip to a winery invokes a sense of enjoyment, relaxation, and sampling new varieties. However, wineries are about more than relaxation and a weekend getaway.
Wineries are an important economic engine for Missouri, contributing more than $1.6 billion annually to the state's economy and providing jobs to a number equivalent to approximately 14,000 full-time positions. Wineries and vineyards play an important role in Missouri's agri-business industry.
From vineyards to tasting rooms and wineries rich in history, the central region of Missouri offers a multitude of venues, each with unique features that would impress any wine aficionado. Spend the day or take a tour of several, enjoying what these wineries have to offer.
St. James Winery
540 Sidney St.
St. James, MO 65559
St. James Winery has always drawn inspiration for its award-winning wines from the spirit of the early Italian immigrants who settled the area around St. James during the late 1800s. Now with the introduction their Frontier Selection label, St. James Winery is re-branding five of its award-winning varietal wines — Cynthiana, Estate Norton, Moscato, Riesling, and Vignoles — and developing two new dry wine blends, Pioneer Red and Pioneer White.
St. James Winery is the largest and most awarded winery in Missouri. Founded by the Hofherr family in 1970, St. James Winery celebrates more than 40 years as a family owned and operated winery. St. James Winery's award-winning wines are sold in 19 states.
Wine brings people together…whether it's lazy summer evenings spent on a deck or cozy winter nights in front of a fire. Wine is the special ingredient for toasts to the new year, the newly married, and the newly born. Because wine is made for sharing, its flavors turn a good meal into something extraordinary. Wine helps make memories, and for the Hofherr family at St. James Winery, wine is a family's legacy.
Jim and Pat Hofherr believed there was great potential to resurrect the winemaking acclaim Missouri enjoyed prior to Prohibition, so with dreams of building a winery from the ground up, the Hofherrs came to St. James, and opened their winery in 1970. It remains family owned and operated.
Rosati Winery Museum
22050 State Route KK (Old Highway 66)
St. James, MO 65559
This historic winery located between St. James and Cuba was built after Prohibition in 1934 by Italian immigrants who settled the Rosati community and developed the area's grape and wine industry.
The building now houses a museum dedicated to the Italians that came to America searching for a better life and finding it here in Missouri.
The history is told through old photographs, historic artifacts and documents, vintage wine making equipment and a video titled "Rosati Missouri-Little Italy of the Ozarks," in which local residents tell their story of the Rosati community from 1898 to 1988. What do Welchs Grape Company, German prisoners of war and Route 66 have in common with Rosati? You will have to visit the winery to find out.
Page 2 of 7 - In addition to the museum, there is a gift/wine shop which highlights and sells Missouri wine from all eight wine regions in the state, and a few from Italy too. This is opportunity to do some wine tasting and buy wines from all around the state of Missouri from one convenient location and get details on those outstanding wineries you enjoyed so you can plan a trip to visit them.
600 State Route B
St. James, MO 65559
A Meramec Vineyards' warm welcome awaits visitors at this attractive, modern winery featuring open beam, natural wood and natural lighting design. Located in St. James in the midst of the scenic Ozark Highland area, Meramec Vineyards began with a vineyard first planted by one of the original Italian immigrant families to the Ozark Plateau around the early 20th century.
Meramec Vineyards produces American varietal wines based on vitis lambrusca grapes, as well as the American varietal, Norton and Euro tradition blends produced from French-American hybrid grapes. Not to be forgotten are their delicious, award-winning juices.
To provide some "education" to their visitors, Meramec Vineyards has planted a demonstration vineyard at the winery with vines of each of the varieties they use in their wine and juices. These are the most commercially grown and popular wine varieties in Missouri.
Three Squirrels Winery
17301 State Route B
St. James, MO 65559
Three Squirrels Winery is both a winery and an art gallery. The winery and gallery are inside a former dairy barn at the edge of the vineyards. Come stroll through the gallery featuring local and regional artists and then enjoy a complimentary wine tasting.
The art gallery is a unique find in the heart of Missouri Wine Country, filled with affordable gifts and beautiful additions for your home. A visit to Three Squirrels Winery is a perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon.
They offer Missouri wines ranging from dry to sweet, a selection of cheeses, salami, crackers and snacks. You can enjoy your purchase on our covered deck overlooking the vineyards.
Wine is available by the bottle and by the glass.
5870 Historic U.S. 66
Leasburg, MO 65535
Belmont Vineyards is a family business located in the Ozark Highland Region of Missouri. Nestled on a farm between Cuba and Leasburg on Route 66 just off Interstate 44, the winery is building a tradition of wine, food, music and a place for friends and family to gather. Our ideal location offers views of the rolling Ozarks hills.
The goal is to produce boutique quality wines offered from its tasting room. Reminiscent of old world Europe, the tasting room is filled with European antiques and locally crafted art. They currently offer 10 wines ranging from dry to sweet. Some have already won awards, which is another tradition upon which they plan to build.
Page 3 of 7 - Covered porches and a large pavilion welcome the visitors and provide the outdoor views where visitors can enjoy the best that Belmont has to offer.
Peaceful Bend Vineyard
1942 Highway T
Steelville, MO 65565
Peaceful Bend Vineyard began life in the 1940s as a livestock farm owned by gentleman farmer and St. Louis doctor, Axel Arneson. After discovering a love of wine and grape growing in the early '60s, Axel and his wife decided to plant a small vineyard at Peaceful Bend in 1965. By 1970 the Arnesons had decided to open a public winery and built a large portion of what you see at Peaceful Bend today.
By 1972, enough wine was stored that the Arnesons were able to open to the public. From 1972–1990 the winery was a family affair and a weekend retreat for the Arneson family.
Located in the midst of the natural Ozark surroundings, the vineyard is set in the idyllic upper Meramec River.
By 1990 though, Dr. Arneson was ready to stop working so hard, and his children were not interested in keeping the family winery; so the decision was made to sell Peaceful Bend. Fortunately a businessman from St. Clair purchased Peaceful Bend and ran it with his business partner until 1993. The business was then sold to a St. Louis-area retailer who was ready to sell the winery again by 1998.
By this time, Clyde and Katie Gill, the current owners of Peaceful Bend were beginning to save money to start their own winery. Katie has a degree from Michigan State University in horticulture and had met Clyde 'the cellar master' when they both worked for the same large winery in Missouri.
Clyde had worked for several years in the wine industry, both in Missouri and in California. Both were ready for a new challenge and fell in love with the countryside surrounding Peaceful Bend Vineyard. With 12 wines on the wine list Katie and Clyde are still excited to be a part of the growing Missouri wine industry.
Casa de Loco
442 Riverbird Lane, Camdenton
Opened in the spring of 2007, the winery sits on a hilltop overlooking the Big Niangua River. Built in the 1930s, Casa de Loco is steeped in history. The winery was once a sprawling private getaway known as "The Millionaire's Club" and later a health care facility for mentally ill patients and the elderly.
Winery owner Larry Owens renovated the property that now offers a reception hall perfect for special events and weddings, lodging, a gift shop, a wine tasting room and a blending room where guests can make their own personalized label.
Casa de Loco has a selection of wines from all over the world, as well as its own line of wines. The Kona Port, a dessert wine made with coffee and cocoa beans, is one of the most popular. The Casa Cooler is a semi-sweet sparkling wine that is also a favorite. White-wine lovers will enjoy the Bella Dolce made of half California Muscat and half Missouri grapes.
Page 4 of 7 - You can snack on brick oven pizzas and prepared cheese and meat platters, or pack a picnic basket and take advantage of the free propane grills located on the grounds. During warmer months, take a canoe or kayak trip down the river through the winery's float trip service. In October, catch a Murder Mystery Dinner theater performance. The shows are offered several times a year, based on demand.
Golden Rock Winery
955 N. Business Route 5, Camdenton
Hours Sunday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Opened in July 2011, this winery has more than 30 different types of wine, custom labeling and a full-service restaurant. Owners Jennifer and Scott Wood have created a cozy atmosphere that offers plenty of seating on the couch next to the fireplace, at the fully-stocked bar or outside on the patio.
Enjoy complimentary wine tasting of any of the 10 different fruit wines or the white, red and dessert wine selections. Wines are made on-site using grapes from all over the world. There is a wine flight option that allows you to try more generous portions of any three wines.
Enjoy the Cabilicious (rich red with vanilla oak and deep red cherry and blackberry flavors), or the Gewurztraminer (a semi-dry white wine that offers aromas of tropical fruits with spicy notes). Fruit and specialty wines include the Berry Zin (raspberry white zinfandel) and the Red Satin (black cherry pinot noir). Watch for new wine creations that are occasionally introduced.
Food served from the state-of-the-art kitchen is fresh and plentiful and includes everything from steaks to pasta dishes, sandwiches and dessert. Create your own pasta by choosing the noodle, sauce, meat and vegetable.
Seven Springs Winery and Vineyards
846 Winery Hills Estates, Linn Creek
You will get a great view of the vineyards as you drive into the 160 acres of hills at this Linn Creek hot spot. It is a scenic drive to Seven Springs Winery where top-notch wines and fine cuisine is served. Vignoles and Norton grapes are grown in the vineyard, which was established about six years ago.
Wines include the Chardonel (fruity with toasted oak), Dry Vignoles (tangerine and orange aromas), and Seven's Red Heaven (deep plum color with fruit flavors and a sweet finish). Most popular is the sparkling Muscato, a light, tropical and fruit-flavored finish.
Sangrias and a few micro-brews round out the drink menu and there is plenty of food to choose from including pizzas, salads, sandwiches and dinner entrées such as steak and seafood.
For a light snack there are soups, sandwiches, cheese trays and dipping oils with bread. Amenities include a reception hall and seating indoors or outside on the covered patio or near the lawn where you can enjoy the view. A gazebo and covered pavilion is located in the vineyard. Shuttle bus service is offered for large groups, along with free Wi-Fi.
Page 5 of 7 - Shawnee Bluff Winery
2430 Bagnell Dam Blvd., Lake Ozark
Hours Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Sunday 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
www.shawneebluffwinery.com or on Facebook at Shawnee Bluff Winery
This winery offers miles of views of Lake of the Ozarks from the outdoor patio. Also owned by Larry Owens, it has more than a dozen varieties of white and red wines. You can sip and enjoy the view outside on the poolside deck or inside next to the indoor fireplace.
The winery has a 50-person banquet hall, a tasting area and a gift shop. Take a dip in the pool and stay overnight in one of the winery's cabins with views of the Lake.
The building housing the winery was constructed in 1931, during the Prohibition period. Owens decided to make fun labels depicting bootlegging, retro scenes and flappers which were popular during that era. One of the labels was designed in collaboration with country singer Candy Coburn. For each bottle of wine sold, a portion of the proceeds goes to breast cancer research and prevention.
One of the property's most unique features is the barrel room. Located downstairs, this private dining room is open to groups of 16. For $65/person, an internationally-trained chef will prepare a seven-course feast while Owens blends wines from the pure barrels that are located in the room.
In the tasting room, the wine poured on tap (just like the Casa Cooler) is the winery's most popular beverage. Other wines include The Primivito, made of primivito grapes, considered a delicacy in Italy; and the Red on Red, a blend of three barrel-aged varietals with aromas of cinnamon, ripe cobbler and fruit.
From Camdenton, take Highway 54 west to Sunny Slope Drive (Lake Road 54-79). Continue past Lake Valley Country Club, then right on Feline Lane.
Hours 11 a.m.-8 p.m. every day but Tuesday
www.sugarloafwinery.com or on Facebook at Sugarloaf Vineyards Winery
Ward and Barb Morris don't have your typical Lake view. In addition to a home that overlooks the Big Niangua River, their Camdenton residence also has views of a vineyard.
Seven years ago, the couple planted their first crop of grapes. Today, those grapes are among the more than 1,200 plants located on the property.
Ward had always dabbled in making small batches of wine. He's now grown his earlier winemaking into a full-scale operation. He and Barb opened Sugarloaf Vineyard this last spring.
The vineyard is made up of mostly Chardonel and Norton grapes. A St. Croix, a Missouri red grape, was added earlier this year but won't be ready to harvest for another four years.
Ward and Barb built an open-air, shaded pavilion with a tasting bar, a television and plenty of seating. The pavilion, and all of the furniture within, was handcrafted by local Mennonites. The tables, rocking chairs, and even the ceiling were made from timber harvested from the property and took workers a year and a half to complete.
Page 6 of 7 - Below the vineyard is a picnic area by the Lake and a perfect spot for a wedding ceremony.
If you feel like making a day of it, rent a kayak. The winery's picnic area is an excellent launching site and so you can explore the Big Niangua River looking at caves, wildlife and birds as you make your way back to the vineyard.
Accommodations include two rental houses — a two-bedroom, two-bath, and a three-bedroom, 3.5-bath.
There are seven wines offered by the glass or bottle at the vineyard. The White Pelican is a dry white wine and the Sir Ivor is a full-bodied dry red wine. Both are made from grapes varietals grown in the vineyard. The other grapes are purchased from Missouri farmers and made into batches of their other wines.
On the menu you'll find a mix of pizza, smoked barbecue, sandwiches, sides, cheese platters, deli items and other snacks.
They also serve draft beer, and live music is provided on select nights.
SAVE THE DATES
St. James Grape and Fall Festival
Sept. 4-7, 2013
The annual Grape and Fall Festival is the biggest event of the year in St. James, which is a mecca in mid-Missouri for wine enthusiasts.
The 80th annual event, which will be held, kicks off with the queen pageant, which began in 1933 to celebrate the grape harvest.
The tradition began among the Italian grape growers in the Rosati community, whose daughters were among the first to participate in the pageant.
The winner of the pageant is crowned Miss St. James for one year.
But that is only the beginning.
While enjoying the carnival, wine tents are set up throughout the area for visitors to enjoy what the wine-rich community has to offer.
Vendors such as Meramec Winery and St. James Winery are on hand with the award-winning spirits to share with the thousands of visitors, many of whom have traveled hundreds of miles to attend.
Other events include the parade, live music, the street market, a kids race, livestock shows, a tractor pool, a demolition derby and much more.
Midwest Wine & Brew Festival
Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, from 2-6 p.m.
At the Country Club Hotel & Spa in Lake Ozark
$15 in advance or $20 at the door
For advance tickets contact the Lake Area Chamber at (800)451-4117
The Lake Area Chamber will hold its annual Midwest Wine & Brew Festival from 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Country Club Hotel and Spa off Horseshoe Bend Parkway in Lake Ozark.
Page 7 of 7 - Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
The Midwest Wine and Brew Festival is one of the most recognizable festivals in the state. Wineries and breweries from across the state will be on hand providing samples to guests, along with vendors and restaurants from the lake area. There will be live entertainment.
Traditionally, more than a dozen wineries and breweries have participated. Expected to participate are Adam Puchta, Les Bourgeois, Seven Springs, Summit Lake, Wenwood Farm, Horseshoe Bend Brewing Co., Piney River Brewing Co. and Missouri Eagle LLC & Ozark Distillery.
Along with various wineries and breweries, numerous vendors and restaurants will be featured. To date vendors and restaurants include: Bob’s No Wake Zone Radio Show, Touched by Heaven, Bad Bones Design and Country Club Hotel.
To learn more about or to purchase advance tickets for the Midwest Wine and Brew Festival, contact Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at 573-964-1008 or www.lakeareachamber.com.