Before You Go
For more information when you plan your fall wine getaway, call Missouri Tourism and 1-800-810-5500, or visit the Web site
The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Grape and Wine Program has a brochure about wineries. Call 1-800-392-WINE (1-800-392-9463) or visit online.

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Visit your nearest AAA service office for maps, TripTiks and TourBook guides.
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A spectacular view of the Missouri River Valley from the Sugar Creek Winery in Augusta (left). /Deborah Reinhardt photo.

Before or after sampling some wines, stop in Defiance to see where frontiersman Daniel Boone lived. /Missouri Division of Tourism photo

Missouri bounty
Drink in the splendor of fall at the many charming wineries that cluster along the Missouri River just west of St. Louis

Published: Sep/Oct 2002
By Deborah Reinhardt

Under a brilliant blue sky, amid hills the color of gold and ripe apples, a robust chorus of “Proud to Be An American” swirls around the guitar player sitting in a white gazebo. It’s another Saturday afternoon in Missouri’s wine country, about an hour west of St. Louis, and the living is easy.

Beginning in Defiance and ending in Hermann, Missouri Highway 94 often follows the Missouri River and ambles past numerous wineries, farms, orchards, charming towns and historic sites. The first section of the road around Augusta is known as Missouri’s Weinstrasse (German for wine road), which is home to several wineries. The route leads to even more wineries in Hermann. The journey is especially lovely in autumn with the added attraction of spectacular fall color.

In all, 10 of the state’s wineries cluster along the Missouri River banks like grapes on a vine. Certified in 1979 as America’s first Viticulture Area by the federal government, the Weinstrasse’s vineyards and those further west along the river thrive on hills formed by the Ice Age. The state’s largest winery, Stone Hill in Hermann, is at the end of this easy drive.

Tastings and trails

Take Highway 94 west from U.S. Highway 61 to Defiance. Stop at Sugar Creek Winery located on the Katy Trail State Park, a 225-mile rails-to-trail project that’s popular with cyclists and hikers. It’s a steep climb up Sugar Creek’s hill, but the views, pleasant wines–like La Rustica white–and live music in the gazebo through October are worth the trip.

Follow Highway 94 to state Route F and find an interesting patch of history, Daniel Boone Home and Boone Campus of Lindenwood University. Tour the pioneer’s home and re-created 19th-century village.

Return to Highway 94 and continue a few miles to Augusta, a town that looks over the Missouri River Valley. Founded in 1836 by Leonard Harold, a Daniel Boone follower, four wineries– Augusta, Montelle, Mount Pleasant, and the new Louis P. Balducci Vineyards–offer tastings, tours and great picnic sites. Montelle Winery hosts Music on the Terrace, a series of live concerts, in September.

Work up a thirst for Augusta wines by picking apples at Centennial Farms and Orchards. Take a hayride to the orchard that’s laden with varieties such as Red Delicious, Empire and Jonagold. For a stronger sweet tooth, pick up some homemade fudge at Salt River Candy.

Continue west on the Weinstrasse and you’ll discover two quaint towns, Dutzow and Marthasville. Distinctive German flavorings spark the wine and ambiance at Blumenhof Vineyards in Dutzow. The winery, located on the Katy Trail, is popular with cyclists, who enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

On your way to Marthasville, take the side road that leads to the Daniel Boone Grave and Monument, although it’s not certain Boone is buried there. The French Village of La Charrette near the banks of Charrette Creek, was founded in 1766 on the current site of Marthasville. This French village grew into an American town and a railroad stop. The 21st Annual Deutsch Country Days (A Living History Weekend), held at Luxenhaus Farm Oct. 19 and 20, re-creates early German life in Missouri and features costumed artisans, music and an antique sorghum press driven by Missouri mules.

Little Germany

When German immigrants settled in Hermann in the early 1837, they had to be reminded of the Rhine River Valley. Today, this village offers award-winning wines, excellent German food and historic homes.

To get to Hermann from Highway 94, take state Route 19, crossing the Missouri River. Festivals and the state’s oldest and largest winery, Stone Hill, are the main attractions for Hermann. On a hill that overlooks town, Stone Hill commands respect. The winery, founded in 1847 is large, but its reputation for producing excellent wines–like Norton, a wonderful red–is equally impressive. Stone Hill offers tours of its vaulted cellars and tastings. Select a chilled bottle, purchase sausage, crackers and cheese from the tasting room and head for a spot on the hill for a perfect picnic. Or enjoy a superb meal at the winery’s restaurant, Vintage 1847.

The biggest festival of the year, Octoberfest, turns this normally quiet town into a crowded, busy fun center on weekends. To enjoy the town’s charm and peak fall color, consider visiting during the week.

Downtown, the Hermanhof Winery dates to 1852 and offers homemade sausages created in the onsite smokehouse. The courtyard is a pleasant location to sample wine and sausage. It’s an easy walk from Hermanhof to some of Hermann’s craft and antique shops. The German School has displays on 19th-century life and also hosts exhibits, such as the annual gingerbread contests. Deutschheim State Historic Site is Missouri’s museum of 19th-century German-American immigration, history and culture.

Adam Puchta Winery located just outside the city’s limits has been in the Puchta family for six generations. Sample some of the award-winning wines, cheeses and sausages.

And the OakGlenn Vineyards and Winery Conference Center is perched high on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, with acres of vineyards gently sloping toward the river. The winery offers 13 varieties of wine.

Missouri’s Weinstrasse in fall is an easy day trip that’s hard to beat. It’s not unusual to see several limousines carrying revelers on the twisty road. However you explore this scenic drive, you’re sure to enjoy everything it offers.

Deborah Reinhardt is managing editor of AAA Midwest Traveler.

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