Wine Country: Augusta, Missouri

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The weather was cool, the music was hot, the food was great, and the wine was excellent! Yes, we are talking about Augusta, Missouri! Did you think we were talking about some faraway pacific coast getaway? Believe it or not Mr Ripley, Augusta, Missouri has some fantastic wines, wineries, and fun wine events! Augusta was named the first American Viticultural Area in 1980 because of its long historical relationship with wine and this area has an optimal grape growing climate. Augusta was one of the top two wine producing regions in America until prohibition put the wine industry to sleep in 1920. So having the Missouri wine industry back on its feet and producing amazing wines is just one of the wonderful benefits for us and our thirsty palates!

Missouri itself has over 110 wineries and 12 are located in the Augusta region. We love coming to this area since it has a country feel yet you are close enough to small town civilization and less than an hour west of St Louis. This is one of our favorite vacation spots and we really enjoy visiting in October when all the Oktoberfest events are happening at the wineries! Lots of fun people, great wines, and lively music! The wines here are very unique and some of them you won’t find outside of the “Show Me” state. Our hands down favorite for its flavor and character is the Norton grape AKA Cynthiana. This is the Missouri State Grape and one that is hard to compete with on any level. Intense flavors of blackberry, ripe black plums, oak, with spicy overtones. Rich, full bodied, zesty, and delicious! You definitely need to add it to your bucket list and buy a bottle to taste it. It is well worth it and if you are like us, you will be ordering more from the Augusta wineries as often as we do!

We just spent a Wine Weekend in Augusta and took a few notes along the way to pass on to our favorite wine lovers. We have been to all of the local wineries here but decided to take a more relaxed approach this time and visited six of the wineries in two days. We are listing all the reasons why we chose these wineries on our October visit. Noboleis Vineyard (www.noboleisvineyards.com) was our first stop of the day. This is one of the newer wineries in the area but it sure doesn’t stop them at producing wonderful wines! A real country feel and a big, grassy yard with tables and chairs to enjoy appetizers and some good Noboleis wines. The tasting room is very clean and updated and offered a lot of wine accessories and souvenirs. There are many events with music here but we came on the day of a Halloween party so the theme had more of a costumed atmosphere. All the wines are tasty but we loved the 2009 Missouri Norton, the 2009 Chambourcin, and the 2011 Vignoles which had a hint of sweetness.

Next, we visited one of our long time favorite wineries, Augusta Winery (www.augustawinery.com) right in the heart of town. This winery has more of a rustic feel and a tasting room filled with all your favorite wine paraphernalia. But here, the wine is the main focus and Augusta Winery always delivers. We were greeted by our smiling wine hostess Jessica who gave us a fun wine tasting tour of her Augusta wines! We always find many wines we like and just have to take some home for further tasting and evaluations. Nudge, nudge. Our favorites wines at Augusta Winery were the Norton Reserva del Patron which was very intense with rich dark berry. Also the Chambourcin, the La Fleur Sauvage (dry rose), the Vidal Blanc, and the semi dry Reserve Red. Augusta Winery does have an outdoor seating area next to the winery and also a Wine and Beer Garden about a block away from the winery where you can sit and enjoy your wine and good conversation. There are many spring/summer/fall music events so check the website for any upcoming entertainment. Wine events go all year round!

Onward to Mount Pleasant Estates (www.mountpleasant.com) which opened its doors in 1859 and is the oldest winery in the Augusta Appellation. Here you have the best of both worlds with original buildings that have been refurbished to celebrate Mount Pleasant Winery’s history and a newer tasting room that houses some of the best wines in the area! It is quite a sight to walk through the different buildings, gardens, and patio and emerse yourself in the whole wine experience. The view from the patio is just beautiful overlooking the hills and fields of the estate! If you have never been here, you honestly need to come here once and see what we mean. All the wines here are wonderful and many have won local and international awards. The Tawny Port and Vintage Port are amazing! Our other favorites are the Norton Estates, the Mount Pleasant Claret, and the Brut Imperial Sparkling wine. Another reason why we come to Mount Pleasant Estates is to see the great bands that come here to play. The Soulard Blues Band is our favorite local blues band and we just had to hear them. They were playing in one of the old tasting rooms so they sounded fantastic and they were so much fun! Great wine, great friends, and great music is the perfect tri-fecta!

Our last stop of the day is a winery that is a bit further out of town but definitely worth the trip! We have been to Cedar Lake Cellars (www.cedarlakecellars.com) once before and just loved the the ambience here. Acres of land with barns, creeks, a restaurant, tasting room, and outdoor stage adds up to a wonderful time! We were quite famished by the time we got here so we were ready for some good Cedar Lake food. After dinner, we had a wine tasting and were impressed by many of the wines. Cedar Lake has their own premium Missouri wines but also buys grapes from California for their California wine collection. We stick to the Missouri wines since we figure that is what we are there for!  We loved the 2010 Vignoles, the 2010 M-OO-N Route White, and the 2008 Norton. (of course). There are always lots of wine and music events so check out the website for more information about Cedar Lake Cellars.

On sunday morning, we shook out the cobwebs, had breakfast, and headed out for our last two wineries of our Wine Weekend. First stop was Chandler Hill Vineyards (www.chandlerhillvineyards.com) which always has some amazing wines. This beautiful winery on top of a hill overlooking the vineyards is very impressive inside and out. The tasting room is filled with tables and chairs and has an upscale hunting lodge feel. Chandler Hill has their own Missouri wines but also has wines they produce from California, Oregon, and Washington state. All their wines taste wonderful and have a touch of elegance. We couldn’t ship them all home so it was a tough decision on which ones would make the trip back. But our favorites were the 2010 Lady Hawk Vignoles (semi-dry), the 2008 Savage Norton, and the 2010 Old Bridge Chambourcin. After our tasting, we went out on the enormous deck to enjoy the sun, vibes, and more wine. The weather was cool but the sun (and red wine) kept us warm. The band was Scott and “Trickee” Karl and we really enjoyed their good vibrations and fun attitudes! Check out the Chandler Hill website for more information about their wines, events, and hours.

We still had time left to get to Montelle Winery (www.montelle.com) before our flight leaves at 7pm! This is a must stop on the winery route because it does have bragging rights to the most beautiful view in Augusta. The huge deck overlooks the vineyards, the hillside, the lakes, and a curvy road that takes you into Augusta and the wineries. It is so breathtaking! There is nothing like enjoying a bottle of wine with friends, listening to a live band, gourmet food, and having that view. Life is good! The tasting room inside is very nice as well and there is a long list of wines you can sample. Our favorites were the River Country Red, the 2011 Chardonel, and the 2006 Cynthiana Port! Look up Montelle’s website for more info about their wines and events.

This is a Wine Experience for us that we love to relive over and over again! We will be visiting again in October 2013 or sooner if we can arrange it. If you have never been there, we hope you will make the trip someday and find out what Missourians have been keeping secret for decades! Great wines, food, hospitality, and scenic landscapes. Check out www.augusta-missouri.com for more information about the area, lodging, restaurants, shopping, and wineries. This is one exciting get-away that is relaxing and you won’t need to take a vacation after your vacation when you get home. WineSplashing!!

2 comments

  • Very impressive write-up on the Augusta Area, keep up the good work!

    • Hey thanks Dave! Yeah, you know I love it there! I get the newsletters and event emails from all the wineries in the Augusta area so it must be great for you guys to actually get up and go to them. Nothing like that around here unless we head towards Benton Harbor, Michigan. Or along Lake Erie in Canada. We just opened up the Bommarito Vignoles the other night and loved that! We just read the Bommarito Chambourcin is sold out til the next vintage. Trying to milk the wines we bought there last Fall til this October when we hope to make it back again. This will be a crazy year! Hope you are all doing great! Talk to you soon!

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