Cheesy Chardonel Bacon Mac & Cheese Recipe

April 27, 2021

Get ready to step up your macaroni and cheese game, Missouri wine lovers. This classic comfort dish goes gourmet with a delicious trio of cheeses and crispy bacon, topped off with rich Chardonel wine. easy recipe will quickly become your go-to dinner dish!


Yields: 6 servings | Total Time: 1 hour



1 lb. rotini pasta

¼ cup butter + 4 T. (divided)

3 tbsp. minced garlic

¼ cup flour

1 cup Chardonel wine

¾ cup heavy cream

¾ cup 2% milk

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. rosemary

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

4 oz. Gouda cheese, cubed

4 oz. Havarti cheese, cubed

4 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, cubed

6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 375oF and grease a 9”x13” baking dish. Boil pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt ¼ cup butter over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook 2-3 minutes, as garlic browns. Whisk in flour, stirring continuously to avoid burning. When flour has browned and become bubbly, pour in Chardonel and continue to whisk as mixture thickens. Add heavy cream and milk, again whisking as mixture continues to become thick. Stir in rosemary, basil and oregano; season with salt and pepper as desired.

Remove skillet from heat and mix in Gouda, Havarti and sharp Cheddar cheese – stir until all cheese is completely melted. Stir in crumbled bacon until well combined. Add pasta and stir again until all ingredients are combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese.

In a small bowl, melt 4 tablespoons butter and mix in breadcrumbs. Spread breadcrumb mixture over the pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until breadcrumb topping is golden. Remove from oven and serve warm with a glass of rich Chardonel wine.

Secrets of Sustainability in the Vineyards

April 22, 2021

Focusing on sustainability and caring for the Earth (and its inhabitants) ensures that it will be around for many years to come. Sustainability is an important part of many individuals’ and businesses’ missions, including wineries in the Show-Me State. Grape growers take care to be stewards of the land and produce outstanding wine in environmentally-friendly ways.

Many producers in the wine industry focus their sustainability efforts around water, energy and soil conservation. Some vineyards use soil moisture probes and drip irrigation systems to be more precise in their watering efforts and conserve water use. Additionally, some producers implement solar power and hand-harvesting of grapes to reduce the energy consumption required by traditional electricity sources and harvesting equipment. To learn more about how harvesting grapes by hand differs than mechanical harvesting, check out this informative overview.

When it comes to soil conservation, you might see a curious sight in some vineyards – animals amongst the vines! Sheep and chickens are employed by some wine producers to engage in weed and pest control as they wander the rows of grapevines. This is an environmentally-friendly method of integrated pest management that places less reliance on herbicides, pesticides and gas-powered mowing equipment. Have you ever noticed the grass growing between rows of grapevines? In many wine regions, grape growers plant cover crops and allow grass to grow in order to prevent soil erosion and add nutrients to the soil. Some wineries also implement pollinator habitats, including bee colonies and butterfly gardens.

Wine producers also practice sustainability by refitting and reusing buildings for cellars, production areas and tasting rooms. Throughout wine country, you’ll see award-winning wine being produced and sold in a variety of buildings – from former churches and barns, to family homesteads and even former Odd Fellows lodges. Want to practice sustainability in your wine adventures? It’s as easy as recycling your bottles and corks after enjoying the last drop of your favorite Missouri wine. Check out our blog for DIY inspiration!

Let’s raise a toast to sustainability, and to wine producers’ dedication to implementing practices that will allow us to enjoy Missouri wine country for generations to come.

New Life in the Vineyards: Bud Break

April 20, 2021

Sunshine and blooming foliage are much-welcomed signs of spring in wine country. Springtime in the Show-Me State is a time of beauty and new growth, a sign of renewal and refreshment after winter’s chilly sting.

Spring is also a time of renewal and refreshment in Missouri vineyards. Grapevines are beginning to awaken from their winter dormancy and show signs of life. Bud break is an exciting time for wine country, as this indicates the start of the growing cycle for our outstanding varietals.

What is bud break? During winter, the buds found on grapevines are isolated from the rest of the vine’s nutrient and water transportation systems to protect them from the bitter cold. As temperatures rise with the onset of spring, new life is breathed into the buds as they are rehydrated and begin to swell. Eventually, the buds will “break” open and shoots will emerge, allowing new growth to burst through. This new growth will lead to the development of grape clusters, which will later be harvested and crafted into award-winning wine.

The excitement of bud break is a beautiful reminder of the many possibilities in the growing season ahead, as vintners work to care for vines and produce the highest-quality wines. While you’re visiting Missouri wineries this spring, see if you can catch a glimpse of bud break in the vineyards! Be quick, it won’t be long before flowering occurs!

Want to learn more about the journey Missouri grapevines undergo to bring you award-winning wine? Check out our overview of a grapevine’s lifecycle!

6 Reasons to Visit Missouri Wine Country

April 15, 2021

Spring is the perfect season to explore Missouri’s fascinating and beautiful wine country. From exquisite wines, to beautiful scenery and plenty of attractions to explore, the Show-Me State’s 125 wineries should be at the top of your must-visit list for this year. Take a look at our top 6 reasons why you should plan your next visit to Missouri wine country today.

1. Sips Sure to Satiate

Spring weather lends itself perfectly for enjoying award-winning Missouri wines. Whether you’re ready to make the seasonal shift to crisp and refreshing white wines, or prefer to continue enjoying bold red varietals, there’s sure to be a wine you’ll love. Enjoy a satisfying wine slush or canned concoction on a sunny spring day in wine country, or sip on a fruit wine or mead while perusing budding vineyards. Besides proprietary blends and dessert wines, you’ll find delicious and unique grape varietals like Norton and Vignoles that winemakers have crafted into award-winning vino. Explore the wide variety of Missouri wines and find your new favorite sipper!

2. Jaw-Dropping Journeys and Spectacular Sights

Journeying to and through wine country is a remarkable experience in itself. Whether you choose to travel by car, rail, trolley or trail, take in the beauty of the Missouri countryside. Plan a road trip on one of several scenic drives across the state (these views are just as gorgeous in the spring and summer as they are in the fall) or grab a bike and hit the historic Katy Trail to traverse wine country.

Once you arrive at your destination, take in the beauty of springtime in the Show-Me State with a glass of award-winning wine in hand and sip among expansive gardens, along the bluffs of the Missouri River, or amid scenic views of vineyards. Many wineries offer ample outdoor seating areas where guests can enjoy clear skies and fresh spring air. Even on dreary days, cozy up in an indoor seating area with your favorite Missouri wine and delight in the simple comforts of great company and even better vino.

3. Enlivening Experiences for Pals and Paws Alike

What could be better than enjoying incredible wine and unparalleled atmosphere? How about playing disc golf, enjoying wine and a picnic in a cave, or participating in a candlelit wine tasting? Besides award-winning wines, Missouri’s wineries offer attractions and opportunities that excite and amaze. For guests looking to expand their wine knowledge or hoping to get a behind-the-scenes peek at their favorite varietal gets from grape to glass, many wineries offer tours and educational opportunities.

These unique experiences are a great opportunity to celebrate friendships and connect with other wine lovers. While you’re in wine country, you can also interact with Missouri wines’ furry fans – a number of wineries are pet-friendly, and some locations even have their own resident pets. Bring your four-legged best friend to a pet-friendly winery on a sunny day and let them enjoy wine country, too!

4. Have-to-attend Happenings

Springtime marks the beginning of many outdoor events and opportunities to sip and stroll.

Check out one of 11 wine trails to discover a pre-planned adventure, some of which have their own trail events. Many wineries also host live music, trivia nights, special dinners and more – check out our upcoming events calendar and follow wineries on social media to stay up-to-date! Looking to be active during your adventures in wine country? Some wineries offer special yoga classes, and some host 5k run/walks!

5. Home Away from Home

Sometimes one day in wine country just isn’t long enough – not to worry, Missouri wine country offers ample accommodations to fit your needs. Picturesque cottages, villas and bed-and-breakfast facilities welcome visitors for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. For those on the adventurous side, camping facilities and spooky stays may be just what you’re looking for. Enjoy the beauty of a springtime sunset or sunrise from wine country and turn your day trip into a multi-day getaway.

6. Double the Rewards with MVP

The only thing that could be better than exploring Missouri wine country? Getting rewarded for each visit. With the free Missouri Winery Visitors Program, members earn points for visiting new wineries and frequenting their favorites. Those points can be redeemed for exclusive rewards, experiences and sweepstakes. Sign up to be an MVP before your next excursion to wine country.

Now is the perfect time to visit a winery near you, or one that’s been on your Missouri wine country bucket list, and make unforgettable memories. Use our online trip planning resources to map out your next visit, and we’ll see you in wine country.

Wineries with Furry Friends

April 08, 2021

If you are a lover of pets, you will enjoy visiting these wineries. Who knows, you may even make a new furry friend.


At Edg-Clif you will find about 12 different cats working in different capacities at the winery, including hospitality and pest control.

Hairi, short for Harriet, watches all the winery operations and makes sure things are running smoothly. She can be seen in the winery, vineyard and tasting room. She often follows visitors on their walks around the property.

Lady Grey, sometimes known as Lady Bug, is a sweet, small, gray Russian cat. She surveys the guests in an effort to find the right lap for an afternoon nap. 

Nibs is a handsome, sleek, black male cat that loves to nap in the barrel room where guests are served in the winter months. Sometimes he can be found stretched out in the middle of a table enticing visitors to admire and pet him.

Three gray cats care for the machine shop next to the tasting pavilion. Mini Pearl and Midnight, both black blacks, are stationed outside the main house. In addition, there is Gus, a red tabby, Zoey, a small gray cat, and Buster, a huge Russian gray cat, who is infamous for sporting his bow tie.



Hummingbird Vineyard and Winery

Gerty is a two-year-old boxer who loves to play and beg for treats, of course. She's full of energy and loves to greet everyone as they come outside. She might lick you, so be warned!



Jowler Creek

At Jowler Creek you will likely meet Vidal, a Great Pyrenees and longtime resident of the winery – nine years to be exact. Just last year Vino, also a Great Pyrenees, joined the team. This duo can be found roaming the vineyards and greeting guests.


River Ridge Winery

At River Ridge Winery, you will meet winery dog Michelle, a black lab. She has been hosting and greeting visitors for 11 years. Her interests include cheese, sunny spots in the spring, fall and winter, shady spots in the summer and swimming in the lake up on the hill.

Ivy, the cat, is the winery’s mystery feline that only comes out in the evening as the crowd thins out. She is a master of camouflage. She could be a few feet away, up the hill from the terrace or 20 feet up in a tree but it will still take a keen eye to spot her.


Stone Hill Winery

Theodora is a three-and-a-half-year-old rescue that can sometimes be seen roaming the hillside, exploring the winery offices or running through Stone Hill’s vineyards. She is a mixed breed, mostly German Shepherd. Her favorite activity is racing down a row of grapes.


Wild Sun Winery

While they may not be at the winery every day, Norton and Eli certainly rule the roost when they are! Edward Wagner says these “4-legged blessings are truly man's best friend.” They provide camaraderie, comfort and endless entertainment. Wild Sun offers Dog Days of Summer where you can share the day at the winery with your special pal as well.



We hope you have the chance to meet some of these adorable winery pets. If you do, snag a picture and be sure to tag us! If you want to share a picture of your pet, post it in the comment section of our #NationalPetDay post on April 11.

Experiences are Richer with Chardonel

April 01, 2021

Days are getting longer and warmer, and green grass is peeking out in spots across the Show-Me State. These welcome changes have wine lovers looking forward to enjoying their favorite Missouri wines in the beauty of the outdoors. As many make the seasonal transition from warming red wines to crisp white wines this April, indulge in Chardonel, the Missouri varietal that makes experiences richer.

Chardonel is a French-American hybrid varietal, the result of a cross between popular Chardonnay and Missouri varietal Seyval Blanc. Chardonel accounts for roughly 7% of Missouri’s grape production, and this varietal is grown on 123 acres across the state.

Chardonel grapes produce a dry, full-bodied white wine. Tasting experiences are richer with Chardonel, as winemakers often ferment this varietal in oak or stainless-steel barrels for unique flavor profiles. Depending on the winemaker’s preferences and goals for the wine being produced, Chardonel can exhibit notes of toasty oak, rich butter or refreshing citrus. Beyond bottling this luscious varietal on its own, Chardonel is often selected by winemakers to enrichen white wine blends.

When selecting a wine for your next gathering or special meal, look to Chardonel. This varietal is the perfect menu matcher and pairs well with nearly every course. Almonds and creamy white cheeses found on springtime charcuterie boards are complemented by rich Chardonel. Entrées like grilled chicken, smoked pork and halibut pair well with this varietal, as do pesto and cream sauces. Satisfy your sweet tooth by pairing Chardonel with shortbread cookies, banana bread or vanilla cake. Want more inspiration for food and Chardonel pairings? Check out our infographic gallery.

Chardonel is also an excellent addition to your favorite recipes and enhances the flavor of a variety of dishes, including butterscotch blondies, sharable fondue and seafood pasta. Winetails like our Moscow Mule variation and the Stargazer wine cocktail are great recipes to incorporate Chardonel into other sipping experiences and appreciate the versatility of this classic varietal.

Whether you choose to enjoy Chardonel on a sun-soaked patio in Missouri wine country, paired with a freshly-cooked meal, or incorporated in a recipe, you’re sure to find that your experiences are richer with every sip of this stunning varietal. During April, celebrate Chardonel Month with Missouri Wines.

Kick Back on the Katy Trail

March 30, 2021

Let your Missouri wine adventures lead you down the historic and scenic Katy Trail. This breathtaking trail is a former rail line and spans nearly 240 miles of the Show-Me State, stretching from Clinton to the St. Louis area.

Many visitors enjoy hiking or biking the Katy Trail and relaxing at various stops along the way. Make sure to save our interactive trip planner so you’ll be ready to kick back on the Katy Trail during your next wine country excursion.

Breaking Down Wine Storage Misconceptions

March 29, 2021

Have you bought or been given a delectable Missouri wine that you’ve been holding on to, waiting for just the right moment to uncork? Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or unwinding on an ordinary evening, enjoying Missouri wine is a treat within itself and should be savored. To make your tasting experience even more delightful, properly storing your prized vino is of the essence.

Not sure how to store your wine collection? Don’t worry, we’re here to break down common misconceptions about wine storage by giving you an easy list of do’s and don’ts to follow. Read on to discover the truth about storing your Missouri wine properly.

DO Chill Out – While chilling wine before serving is a personal preference (check out our handy cheat sheet for chilling), keeping wine bottles stored in a cool area is a recommended practice to ensure that your wine stays safe for future enjoyment. We recommend keeping your bottles in a location where the temperature stays at a constant 45-65oF. These cooler, stable temperatures will inhibit unwanted chemical reactions while allowing your favorite Missouri varietal’s flavor to improve as it waits to be opened. When wine gets exposed to extreme temperatures, the tasting experience can be affected.

DON’T Rely on a Frigid Fridge – It may seem like a good idea to keep your wine in the refrigerator with other beverages, but avoid relying on this space as a long-term storage solution. The temperature inside your household fridge is perfect for keeping regular food items cold, but too cold and dry for properly storing wine long-term. Having wine stored in a chilly fridge for too long inhibits the flavor improving magic that happens in your bottle of wine, and can actually dry out your wine’s cork over time.

DO Store on Sides – Storing your wine bottles upright may save space and allow you to admire the beautiful label gracing your vino, however, this isn’t an ideal solution for long-term storage. Storing bottles upright doesn’t allow for wine to touch the cork and keep it moist, and dried out corks can cause potential issues when it comes time to enjoy your wine. Store wine bottles securely on their side so those corks can be “kissed” by the wine as they wait for their time to shine.

DON’T Tuck atop the Fridge – It may be tempting to squeeze a few wine bottles on top of your refrigerator for safekeeping, but this is not a good storage solution. You might be surprised to learn that the top of your fridge is actually quite warm and vibrates (it may be hard to notice during your normal fridge encounters). The heat and vibration can cause damage to your wine’s chemical components and impact your tasting experience.

DO Embrace the Dark Side – The best place to store your wine is in a dark, cool space. Your best bet is a dry, mild temperature basement or a cupboard under the stairs (as long as it stays at a fairly constant temperature). A dedicated wine chilling fridge or mini fridge is also a great solution for storing your wine bottles. Want to display your favorite wines in your home for guests to marvel? Take some time to find a space in your home to set up a wine rack – make sure it’s in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

DON’T Let the Sun Shine In – We’ll admit we love the Show-Me State sunlight and enjoying our favorite Missouri wines in the sunshine, but we recommend avoiding storing your wine in the sunlight. Keeping your unopened wine in direct sunlight or bright interior lights creates heat inside the bottle and affects your wine’s longevity.

Now that you have these wine storage do’s and don’ts at your disposal, you’ll be well-equipped to safely store your award-winning Missouri wine. Need to stock up on your favorite varietal or want to explore Missouri’s unique wine country? Check out our interactive map to find unbeatable wine near you!

Springtime Sipping Outdoors

March 25, 2021

Spring has sprung, the days are longer and temperatures are getting warmer. It’s a great time to enjoy sipping on Missouri wine outdoors!

When planning your next outing to Missouri wine country, consider visiting one of the many wineries that offers outdoor seating. From bistro tables to picnic tables, you can relax outside with your significant other or laugh the day away with your whole crew.


Want to pack a picnic? These wineries allow guests to munch on their own food while lounging anywhere from a beautiful lawn, under an arbor, on the deck or even inside a cave! Did you know there are more than 70 Missouri wineries where your furry friend is welcome to tag along? Grab a leash and take them to the vineyard – your pup might even love it more than the dog park.


Wine country has 11 unique wine trails that offer pre-planned wine adventures for those who want to explore a variety of stops. Check out our online calendar or take a look at the wine trail’s individual Facebook pages for upcoming events.


While you’re out and about in wine country this spring, be sure to snap plenty of pictures. We’d love to see them, just tag us or use #MOWines when posting them on social media!




Raise a Toast to World Ag Day and Missouri Viticulture

March 23, 2021

Familiar with World Ag Day? This special day has been designated to celebrate the contributions that the agriculture industry makes to the globe. Agriculture is an essential part of our economy and our lifestyles, from the food we eat and the wine we enjoy, to the clothes we wear and the fuel that powers our world.

In the United States, the agriculture industry provides an affordable and safe food supply for consumers both domestically and internationally. According to recent studies, a single farm in the United States can feed 166 people. From commodities like corn and soybeans, to natural resources and specialty crops, agricultural products are raised across 2 million farms and marketed around the globe. (American Farm Bureau Federation)

The Show-Me State has deep roots in agriculture and continues to be a major player in national agricultural production. In Missouri, 95,000 farms stretch across nearly 28 million acres of land – that’s two-thirds of our state’s total acreage! The agriculture industry in our state contributes $88 billion to the economy annually, and Missouri ranks in the top 10 for production of many commodities and livestock. (Missouri Department of Agriculture)

Some might be surprised to realize the role that viticulture plays as part of the agriculture industry. Viticulture is the growing of grapevines, which can be used for a variety of purposes including grape products, grape juices and delectable wines. Vineyard managers work to produce bountiful acres of grapes while being stewards of the land and agricultural resources.

Across the United States, viticulture plays a major role in enhancing the economy delivering an annual impact of $220 billion. In Missouri alone, the wine and grape industry has a significant impact on the state economy – more than $3 billion annually, to be exact. Across 126 wineries and 1,700 acres of vineyards, the wine and grape industry supports more than 28,000 jobs. (WineAmerica)

Let’s raise a toast (with Missouri wine of course) to the agriculturists who produce the resources that keep our world fed, clothed and running smoothly. Take a moment to appreciate the hardworking vineyard managers and winemakers who grow and make the award-winning wine that we all love.

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