Monday, November 2, 2009

Break Time is Over

It was a long rainy week in the hills of Missouri but we had a good time anyway. In the nine days we were away we visited 15 wineries, several wine shops, and met some interesting people. It was a different trip for us because we hit the wineries on the weekends, we usually hit them on a weekday, and you get a different experience between those two choices.

First, many wineries offer abbreviated tasting lists on the weekends due to the volume of customers, limiting tasting to six popular choices. We sweet-talked our way around that though; they appreciate the dry wine drinkers who buy more then a bottle or two. Second, there is often live entertainment in open air venues or even karaoke as we found in one case. Third, parking is a real pain at the larger wineries and you have to do some walking from your car to the tasting room. Here are a few places we visited:

We wanted to visit MONTELLE winery located just outside Augusta to try their new vintage Dry Vignoles, but we were too late! The 2007 vintage had won best Missouri wine in 2008 and the new batch got hammered as it was bottled and put on the market. We did enjoy their wines very much, this new winery is partnered with an old favorite of ours, AUGUSTA winery, and we know the winemaker pretty well. Montelle is designed for the big crowds, the people looking to spend an hour or two, they offer a nice place to taste, drink, and even eat while sitting on a hilltop overlooking the wine country scenery.

Next was AUGUSTA winery and there was a line to get in at opening. This winery above all others we visit anywhere has consistently offered exceptional wines at very low prices. They have a strong offering of dry reds and whites with case prices well under $10 a bottle.

We skipped the other local winery, MOUNT PLEASANT, since we have never been real fond of their wines. It’s a beautiful setting and a huge place, but we also heard they were the first winery in the area to introduce paid tasting! So we drove by and headed towards BIAS winery and micro-brewery. This place is way off the beaten path and up a narrow lane, it’s small and quaint, but had a large crowd of folks who looked like they were settled in for a while.

BLUMENHOF winery, near Dutzow is a nice newer winery with good wine. We had a mission to stop there because my wife had made friends with an employee the previous year and promised her a bottle of our wine she thought sounded good. They were cranking up the music as we left and the parking lot was filling, everyone had a picnic basket and was headed for a table.

We headed for Hermann with its numerous wineries and another must-visit place, STONE HILL winery. We always enjoy stopping here and tasting their many wines, Stone Hill is one of the big players in MO wine and has tasting rooms around the state. They also have a great eatery called the Vintage restaurant, but it was packed and had a long waiting list.

Passing by many other wineries, we headed towards St James where another cluster of wineries awaited us. Watch here later for an update on those wineries and how it rained almost all week. But now the vacation is over and we are back and headed into the busy season, ready to get it done! Lots of new stuff coming, so stay tuned…

No comments:

Post a Comment