Missouri’s Wine Country
Recognized internationally for its award-winning vintages, Missouri’s wine country was settled
by German, French and Italian immigrants in the early 19th century.
Their heritage and old-world
winemaking style has made a lasting impression on the region, which today draws tourists looking to
experience the tastes and explore the history of the rich countryside.
Straddling the Missouri River, the picturesque, two-lane highways 94 and 100 lead travelers to
small towns rich in history and wine-country heritage.
Only an hour drive west of St. Louis, 11 of the
state’s renowned wineries cluster along the banks of the Missouri River like the grapes on a vine.
Sugar Creek, Augusta, Montelle, Mt. Pleasant, Balducci and Blumenhof are all situated along Highway 94,
known to many as the Missouri Weinstrasse (German for wine road).
The Hermann wine region, a few
minutes west of the Weinstrasse region on Highway 100, is home to several other wineries, including
Adam Puchta Winery, Hermanhof Winery, Stone Hill Wine Company, Bias Vineyard & Winery and
Robller Vineyard. All 11 wineries are located within an hour of each other, making a day tour extremely
Certified in 1979 as America’s first Viticultural Area by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms, the Weinstrasse’s vineyards thrive on rolling hills formed by the Ice Age some 20,000 years
The region’s glacier-dust soil and favorable climate were cited by the Bureau in 1979, when it passed
over several California districts also under consideration for the designation and gave the honor to the 15-
square-mile area surrounding Augusta.
Missouri’s burgeoning wine industry was nearly destroyed by Prohibition when the wineries were
shut down and the vineyards replanted with other crops. Before Prohibition in 1920, Missouri was at one
point the second largest wine producing state in the Union, with no less than 100 wineries in the
Weinstrasse region alone.
During the last 30 years, a handful of vintners have labored to restore many of Missouri’s
vineyards and wineries to their pre-Prohibition levels of excellence. Missouri wine production has
doubled since 1991. During the past five years, the ratio of medals awarded to Missouri’s wineries has
been higher than those awarded to the more than 750 California wineries.
Stone Hill Winery, located in
Hermann, the hub of Missouri wine production, is now the third most awarded winery in America.
Aside from the tastes of locally-grown spirits, a tour of Missouri wine country offers many other
delights – scenic river valleys, historic villages and towns, delicious cuisine, antique shops, museums,
scenic hiking trails, festivals and wine-related special events. When the day comes to a close, travelers
can stop off and unwind at one of the region’s many charming bed and breakfasts tucked away in the
Most of the towns along the Missouri Weinstrasse have a decidedly Germanic flavor, thanks to
their founding fathers. Many have several buildings or entire districts on the National Historic Register.
Almost every weekend during the summer months and throughout the year, Hermann plays host to
German festivals, the biggest of which are Maifest and Octoberfest. Even those not interested in wine
will enjoy a visit to Hermann for the festivities, which include traditional German dancing, bratwurst,
beer and yodeling.
Wine enthusiasts can venture off the beaten path and pedal the ambling trails of the Katy Trail State Park,
which weaves through the Weinstrasse region.
Although the wineries along the Missouri River are best known and most visited, more than 40
wineries are scattered across the state.
Missouri’s second largest wine region is the Ozark Highland area
around St. James, the state’s third appellation district, established in 1987.
The St. James Winery, like the
many wineries along the Weinstrasse, has become one of the most nationally and internationally awarded
wineries in the state.