Missouri wine

A few months ago I convinced myself Missouri wines really were turning the corner. A nice cab franc from Westphalia got me started. A St. James Cynthiana was pleasant as well. Les B’s Chardonel was nice, for a semi-sweet, on a hot summer day. Since then, squadoosh. And this, this freaking 2007 Norton Reserve from Les Bourgeois. It’s like a bad, flat framboise. Like drinking soured grape juice with pureed oak chips. Christ, it’s nasty.

The worst part about the “Best in Missouri Wine” lists is that you can’t find many of the good ones. Try to find Montelle’s 2008 Dry Vignoles or an award-winning chamourcin…they aren’t at Hy-Vee. I could use a few tips. What Missouri wines do you like?


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

14 thoughts

  1. We really like Cooper’s Oak wines from Higbee, MO. They pride themselves on their big bold reds. Pretty sure both Hy-Vee and Patricia’s carries Cooper’s Oak wines. Scott, if you haven’t gone to Cooper’s Oak Winery in Higbee, you should, and if you can get off during the week, you should make arrangements to visit and take a tour of the cooperage and see a long-standing established barrel-making business in operation. In fact, that’s how they got started in the wine business: by selling their oak barrels for decades to wineries in CA. Jeff Kirby and his cousin, Charlie, are class acts, and the most friendly and knowledgeable pair of guys you’ll ever hope to meet. Tell them Tim and Christine sent you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Speaking of the Westphalia wines, my favorite is their Prodigal Son, which is a combination of the Cabernet Franc and the Norton (which is also fantastic!). And I am not usually one to like the drier wines! OF course, I am partial to the Westphalia wines, since that is where I live. Overall, the earlier Missouri wines were all just a bit on the sweet side for those who do not like sweeter wines. Of the whites, I still like Hermanhof’s White Lady.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree that Missouri wines are hit and miss. There are some winners out there if you are willing to venture far off the traditional Missouri wine path. Take Nick Bommarito, for example. His winery, Bommarito Almond Tree Estate, is just outside of New Haven in an idyllic setting. His small, unassuming tasting room is staffed usually by Nick himself, and if you are there on a slow day, he will talk to you for hours about his past and current lives (he was a freighter pilot for many a year until he moved to California to apprentice at some of the finest California wineries, moving back a few years ago to Missouri). He now grows a variety of Missouri grapes, including the Vignole, St. Vincent, and the Norton. His Norton is 100% Norton (many of the larger wineries use a blend) and is light, spicy, with an intense finish. He uses his wonderful Norton as the base for his Missouri Port, which is some of the best Port I’ve tried — no foolin’! My fiancee and I hosted a dinner party not too long ago where we finished a meal made from Missouri produce — smoked Kale with turnip puree and sauteed Lion’s Mane mushrooms — with Missouri Port from the Bommarito Estate and it wowed even our most discriminating (and, dare I say, snobbish) Foodie Friends.

    The only problem, as the original post hinted, was that many of the better boutique wines are not available here in Columbia. I’ve never been able to find Bommarito wines anywhere in town, and that is a shame, especially when the shelves are lined with so much swill.

  4. Love just about anything from Heinrichshaus although I’m afraid I’ve never seen his wines distributed ANYWHERE (but they do ship). Totally worth a trip to the winery though. Not just for the wonderful wine, either. The owner is quite a comical little German man who greeted us at the door on a hot August day in his mesh tank top and cargo shorts. His large german shepherd was laying just inside the door. He’ll ask you what kind of wine you like but will promptly tell you he doesn’t make anything sweet (but there are a few semi-sweet whites on the list). Loved the chambourcin we had when we were out there. Cynthiana was good too. Winery is out near St. James.

  5. My Mom owns a wine store in Mexico called Wine on Washington. Part of the problem with carrying Missouri Wines is getting more distributors to carry it. And Scott – I think Montelle is out of their Dry Vignoles, but their ice wine is great and I know where you can get it locally. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Scott, 2007 may not be the best year to judge any Missouri winery. Remember, that was the year of the killing April freeze, and most vineyards lost most of their grapes. A lot of the vintages from that year are labelled “American wine” not “Missouri wine” as a rule was passed to allow them to import California grapes for one year only just to stay in business. So I’m wondering if your 2007 Norton is one of those using poor quality grapes, non-Missouri grapes, or some other related effect.

    We’ve been very pleased with Stone Hill’s wines, though we’re far from true experts. Their Norton is strong and peppery, which I really like, compared to softer versions from Les B and St. James (another source we’ve enjoyed).

  7. Most retailers will make an effort to respond to customer requests and if they get enough, will put pressure on their distributors. The Missouri wine industry is undergoing tremendous change as the science involving hybrid viticulture and enology advances. Some to look at now are –

    2007 Cross J Vineyard Norton This wine took the 2009 Governor’s Cup. The grapes for this wine were produced out of a small, select small vineyard that surrounds Stone Hill’s owners (Jim and Betty Held) home. It really showcases how a specially managed vineyard can reveal itself through the glass. http://www.stonehillwinery.com

    Montelle Winery in Augusta is really one to watch. They’re putting out some *exceptional* wines. For starters, try their 2008 Chardonel or 2005 Cynthiana Port. http://www.montelle.com

    For a lighter bodied red, try Reserve Red from Augusta Winery – http://www.augustawinery.com

    Adam Puchta Winery Signature Port is also excellent (especially with dark chocolate ๐Ÿ™‚ ) http://www.adampuchtawinery.com

  8. On a recent trip to Hermann and the St James region, we found our favorite wineries were Robller (New Haven) and Peaceful Bend (Steelville). I saw Peaceful Bend for sale in St. Louis so I know it’s available there. I particularly liked the Dry Vignoles from Robller but everything there was tops of our trip. The Peaceful Bend wines are all available online. We were particularly partial to their Whites.

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