Say Hello to New Wineries in Missouri Wine Country

August 25, 2020

Missouri wine country offers a range of diverse wineries and event spaces that span from the bootheel to the northwest corner of the state, and everywhere in between. As fall descends upon the state, we invite you to explore Missouri’s 129 wineries. Need help figuring out where to start your Missouri wine adventure? Check out these new additions to our ever-expanding list of wineries.

 

 

Spencer Manor

Intersection of Highway V and 68 (coming fall 2021), St. James, MO 65559

Spencer Manor Winery is a new, family-owned winery in St. James. Spencer Manor’s tasting room, featuring wine caves and stunning views, is coming fall 2021. For now, you can purchase wines from Spencer Manor’s first release online and enjoy it from your own home! There are currently 5 wines to choose from, and more information about each wine can be found on Spencer Manor’s website. Spencer Manor Winery offers free order delivery or pick-up by appointment only.

 

 

Big Oak Vineyards & Winery

153 NE 201 Road, Clinton, MO 64735

Big Oak Vineyards & Winery can be found right on the border of the Ozarks, just a short drive southeast of Kansas City. What started as a dream ten years ago has evolved into a small winery that owners hope to grow each year; they’re passionate about their vineyard and wines, and you’ll be too after taking a sip. Big Oak’s lineup of wines ranges from classic varietals to blends, all of which are sure to please any group! Make plans to stay a while during your next Missouri wine country adventure – Big Oak Vineyards & Winery offers ample indoor and outdoor seating for your sipping pleasure.

 

 

 

Primitive Olde Crow and Winery

32 SE Hwy AA, Clinton, MO 64735

Come visit Primitive Olde Crow and Winery in the Clinton area; their selection of wines – including “Shut The Front Door” and “The Chiller” – are sure to intrigue and delight your palate! In addition to delectable wines, Primitive Olde Crow and Winery offers a wide array of merchandise. You might find anything from vintage stoneware or farmhouse décor, to resale clothing or scrumptious homemade fudge. Wine tastings are available daily, and Primitive Olde Crow and Winery offers an appetizing food selection on-site. This winery is pet- and family-friendly, so feel free to bring the whole crew on your next wine outing!

 

Big Oak Vineyards and Primitive Olde Crow participate in the Missouri Winery Visitors Program (MVP). Not an MVP member? Learn more about how you can be rewarded for exploring Missouri wine country!

There are options for everyone in Missouri wine country. Now is the perfect opportunity to explore new wineries and enjoy the state’s award-winning wines. Request your copy of the latest Missouri Winery Guide and start your next Missouri wine adventure!

Viandel Vineyard

Viandel Vineyard is situated in the quiet of Missouri’s pristine Ozark Mountain Woodlands, just outside of Mountain View, MO and right off of Highway 60. This is a noted pathway to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, a getaway to clear streams and a clean fresh escape to nature.

Owners, John and Johnna Swineford invite you to stop in and sample their handcrafted wines and Neapolitan pizza made in their wood fired brick oven. Relax on the back patio, kick back by the fire, or drop in on your way through. Don’t miss this chance to toast the Ozarks!

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Berry Mint Vignoles Ice Pops

August 17, 2020

August has been a scorcher, so let’s cool down and reminisce simpler times with a chilly treat! This quick recipe combines your favorite summer fruits, a hint of mint, and a splash of Missouri wine. These refreshing, sangria-like ice pops are sure to be a hit at your upcoming Labor Day gatherings.

 

Berry Mint Vignoles Ice Pops Recipe 

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Makes 12 popsicles

Ingredients:

3 cups watermelon3 tablespoons aged rum
2 cups Vignoles white wine
3 tablespoons simple syrup
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 cup blueberries
Fresh mint as desired (we suggest 8-10 leaves finely chopped)

 

Directions:

  1. Chop watermelon into cubes and combine with rum, wine, simple syrup, and lime juice in a blender or food processor. 
  2. Blend ingredients just until watermelon is puréed.
  3. Add blueberries to mixture and pour into popsicle mold.
  4. Sprinkle chopped mint leaves across tops of popsicles prior to placing popsicle handles into mold.
  5. Freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight if possible.

   

Enjoy on a warm day, and share your results with us using #MoWine!

Van Till: The Postcard Perfect Dream

August 17, 2020

Van Till winery front

The Van Tills left California nearly 20 years ago with a postcard-perfect dream of a farm-to-table winery in the Midwest. Today, Van Till Family Farm Winery in Rayville, Missouri, stands as proof that dreams do come true with hard work, and their beautiful labels serve as postcards for this destination winery.

When Cliff and Debbie Van Till left northern California, they wanted to plant roots in an area where they could establish a sustainable, viable farming operation. They raised organic vegetables and almonds on their Golden State farm, and sold produce and baked goods at San Franciscan farmers' markets. Still, it was Missouri's wineries that caught their eye.

Cliff and Debbie Van Till

Debbie had been making homemade wines for years – even before the couple was married. So, a winery seemed like a natural fit for the couple's talents, especially in a state with robust wine culture and infrastructure like the Show-Me State. However, good things take time, and the Van Tills began their new life by selling baked goods at Kansas City's City Market under the name of Rayville Baking Company.

In 2005, the Van Tills began to develop their Rayville property, constructing what is now their winery building. And, in April of 2006, Van Till Country Market was open for business stocked with baked goods, canned farm products, charcuterie, plants, produce and flowers. One month later, they planted their first vines and waited.

The first Van Till vintage was bottled in 2009, and over the last 11 years, the couple and their team have crafted more than 30 different wines. Through their winery, Cliff and Debbie have used their many skills. Their baking now serves as the foundation of their famous wood-fired oven pizzas, and their farm produce and charcuterie serve as farm-to-table pizza toppings. Debbie's green thumb and Master Gardener skills nurture the winery's expansive gardens and provide guests with a peaceful and pristine surrounding.

Today, Van Till wines are only available at the winery, making Van Till Family Farm Winery a destination winery. Like all of your favorite vacation destinations, Cliff wanted Van Till's beauty to be captured in postcard-like photos that grace each bottle of their wines.  A graphic design professional hatched this concept, and Cliff oversees the process, taking pride in the beautiful and varied bottle displays.

Van Till landscaping  Van Till Landscaping

Each label is as unique as the wine inside, capturing a piece of the beautiful Van Till farms and gardens. The labels represent not only their farm-to-table approach, but also the individual characteristics of the wines in each bottle.

"All the pictures are taken on the farm property and depict the many varied facets of the farm and winery gardens," Cliff says. "Sometimes, the pictures depict the wine. For example, a bold, angry sky for Norton or frilly flowers for white wine."

Van Till Vignoles bottle

Beautiful Missouri clouds symbolize Van Till Missouri Vignoles' notes of pear, melon and pineapple over the greenhouse. This semi-sweet white wine is made from 100% Missouri grapes and pairs well with pesto chicken pizza followed by their signature carrot cake.

When you visit Van Till, you will undoubtedly be drawn into the postcard perfection gracing each bottle, and their staff can help you pair the perfect pizza or dessert with your bottle of choice while you sip in their scenic gardens.

LaChance Vineyards: A tradition of happiness

August 13, 2020

Jefferson County winery LaChance Vineyards (pronounced la-shontz) honors owners Harold and Tami Hamby's family traditions. Its name memorializes Harold's great-grandfather Ferdinand 'Zep' LaChance, a Frenchman poor in wealth but rich with happiness and eternal optimism. Zep's joy serves as a source of inspiration to the Hamby family and LaChance staff, who find it hard to be anything but happy in their beautiful vineyards. 

Guests can expect to see expansive landscaping – beautiful flowers, flowing water features and statues acquired from the Missouri Botanical Gardens when they visit the De Soto, Missouri, winery. While patrons enjoy sipping wine in a casual environment, they can watch stunning sunsets appear over acres of vineyards. 

Where the vineyards now stand was once the Hamby family's hayfield. Harold's parents bought the 80-acre farm in the ’70s. For decades, the land hosted countless family trips, weekend stays and gatherings. In 2012, Harold and Tami moved from their St. Louis home to the family's farm, at their son Hayden's suggestion. 

With Hayden's prompting, Harold knew it was time to act upon his dream of owning a winery. Harold has a passion for wine, and he has spent more than 40 years collecting and tasting wines from around the world. This passion drives Harold to experiment with blends and varieties at their small winery to create unique wines which he feels can rival other wine regions around the world. 

"We pride ourselves on producing wines that will compare with highly acclaimed wine-producing regions around the world," Harold says. 

His passion for wine proved heritable as Hayden now expresses interest in the family's business. Perhaps a Hamby will use the property for generations to come. Today, they have roughly 12 acres of vines with plans to expand in the future, and the family's Jefferson County farming roots continue to run deep. This year, Hamby Farms was named Jefferson County Farm Family of the Year for the State of Missouri for their work on the winery's agricultural side. 

Harold's love for wine and Show-Me State agriculture drives him to share Missouri wines with others and showcase it on a larger stage. In 2018, LaChance wines graced gift bags at the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards™ and in-room welcome gifts during Oscar weekend for presenters and celebrities staying at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons.  

"We want everyone to know that great grapes and great wines are being produced in Missouri," Harold says. 

Outside of star-studded events, LaChance is also reaching out to more Missourians with their recently opened Kimmswick location. The new site at "The Old House," which features inside and outside patio seating options, is full of history and Missouri wines. Built before the Declaration of Independence was signed, the cabin stood witness to much of Missouri's history, even hosting Ulysses S. Grant during his stay at the Jefferson Barracks. It now touts a wine bar and a restaurant with a full lunch menu, which will be expanded to a dinner menu with steaks and fresh seafood this fall. 

Whether you want to sip wine surrounded by exquisite gardens, purchase bottles shared with celebrities or taste unique blends in a cabin older than this nation itself, LaChance offers the opportunity to experience Missouri wines in a unique way – as a nod to family and happiness.

Cut the Heat with Vignoles

August 04, 2020

It's summertime in Missouri. Grab a glass of Vignoles and cut the heat with this refreshing white wine.

August is Vignoles month in Missouri. As one of Missouri’s most versatile white grapes, this French-American hybrid produces wines ranging from dry to sweet, late harvest dessert wines. Vignoles’ luscious floral aroma and fruity flavors of pineapple and apricot make it a favorite.

Vignoles is one of the most food-friendly varietals. It pairs well with spicy pork, chicken and cheeses, peppers, Mexican, buffalo style hot sauces, strawberries, apricots and cheesecake.

Vignoles accounts for 15.5% of all grapes grown in Missouri with a whopping 263.1 grape bearing acres. The vines tolerate the state’s cold temperatures and have a later bud opening period than most, making the varietal less susceptible to late frost damage.

Missouri Wines invites you to discover the versatility of Vignoles!

Junk Food and MO Wine Pairing

White Mule Winery: A Taste of Community

July 20, 2020

In 1861, Charles (Charlie) Schlottach's great-great-grandfather literally followed wagon wheels from Germany to central Missouri, serving as a blacksmith along Missouri's "iron road" near Owensville, Missouri. Charlie’s grandkids are now the sixth generation of Schlottachs to grow up in this community. All three of Charlie's children and his wife, Karen, work at White Mule Winery or on the family’s farming operation. To say the Schlottachs have roots would be an understatement.

White Mule Winery is a celebration of those roots, their community and Missouri agriculture as a whole. From the winery's name which was to honor the farm's previous owner who was known to farm with a pair of white mules well into the '80s, to the walls of their winery which are clad with local barn wood, White Mule is an ode to central Missouri's heritage and sustainability.

If you visit the winery located next to the sharp turn on Highway 50, you'll likely see the current team of white mules "Margaret" and "May" enjoying retirement. You'll also see a family-run business that thrives on the Schlottach family tradition of good food, good wines and good conversations.

Charlie can vouch for all of these because his family has played a role in each step. The Schlottachs sustainably produce most items offered at White Mule Winery. Nearly every steak comes from their own cattle raised in the rolling hills and processed in their own harvesting facility. Many of their wines come from the vineyard they planted 17 years ago, and the conversation is always flowing between White Mule patrons and the friendly Schlottach family and staff.

"We just talk about our community, our collective community and what we're trying to do to be sustainable and share those values. We think that those old-timers have a lot of things right with how they eat well, sip well and communicate with each other," Charlie says. "We sit down, communicate, and celebrate life."

If you were to join White Mule for one of their Friday steak dinners, you'll likely see Charlie and be invited to their outdoor grill to see your steak be prepared over hot embers from oak wine barrels, as he recommends to pair your steak with their Norton, which also carries oak notes.

"When you know what you know about the wine you're serving them and the food you're serving them, it's really rewarding because you know the quality of it," Charlie says. "It's tremendously rewarding when your customers are satisfied. They come back, and then they send their friends."

While the White Mule may seem rural, it is the gathering place for its community. It proudly hosts local meetings, counsels, celebrations and even weddings. This is what the Schlottach family hoped for when they created the winery, because they've long known the importance of the community they know, love and have served for nearly a decade.

Serving his community and promoting Missouri agriculture is nothing new for 65-year-old Charlie. He spent nearly 20 years selling cattle feed, followed by 17 years in politics. While serving in the Missouri House of Representatives, Charlie realized more and more Missourians were asking the right questions about their food. In White Mule Winery, Charlie saw a way to provide an answer, build a family business and promote his community.

"I have never seen any better opportunity for rural Missouri with what we have to offer with value-added agriculture than what we have right now," Charlie said. "When you have a story to go with it and you can stand behind your product, it is a powerful thing and people appreciate it."

Stories always abound at the White Mule Winery, whether they're about food and wine or celebrating the latest happenings in the community. Stories bring Missourians together, and as Charlie will tell you, some of the best ones are often shared with neighbors.

"See what is in your own community. Check what is in your backyard. There are hidden places with foods and wines that can surpass your expectations. Sometimes local is just as good as anything that you can find around the world," he says. "Stay near home; check it out. Your friends and neighbors will probably be there, and they're probably there now."

 

 

7 Fast Facts About Concord Grapes

July 16, 2020

It's Concord month, and it's time to celebrate the quintessential grape juice flavor we know and love. Concord grapes are not only a variety of American grapes that make sweet red wine, but they're an important part of Missouri history.

1. Boston-born Ephraim Wales Bull discovered concord grapes. Known as the "father of the Concord grape," Bull planted more than 20,000 native species of American grapes before producing what he considered to be the ideal grape on his Concord, Massachusetts farm, according to the Concord Grape Association.

2. Concord grapes are "slip skin" grapes. This means the skin easily separates from the pulp. More of these unique purple grapes are grown in the U.S. than any other variety, according to the Concord Grape Association.

3. The iconic Welch's grape juice was born in 1869 when New Jersey dentist Dr. Thomas Welch used pasteurization to preserve juice from the concord grapes growing outside his home.  In 1918, his son, Charles, introduced Welch's "Grapelade," one of the first modern jams and a World War I ration staple, according to the Concord Grape Association.

4. With the increased demand for Welch's grape products, company contracts for concord grapes saved many Missouri vines during the Prohibition. As vineyards were pulled up by the rootstock and barrels were dumped, many growers in the Saint James, Missouri area were able to save their vines by contracting with the Welch's Grape Co. Today, there are even some acres of pre-Prohibition concord vines in that area, according to VisitMo.com.

5. Concord grape demand continued to grow with the invention of a lunchtime favorite and World War II ration – the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Since "Grapelade" was already a wartime staple and pre-sliced bread emerged into the marketplace in 1928, soldiers paired the two ingredients with canned peanut butter to create the inexpensive, yet nutritional and delicious classic, according to the Concord Grape Association.    

6. Known for its hardiness as much as their grapes' sweet, recognizable flavor, Concord vines cover around 112 acres in the Show-Me State and account for 7 percent of the state's grapes. You can still visit roadside stands along Interstate 44 near Saint James, Missouri to purchase Concord grapes each fall, according to VisitMo.com.  

7. Concord wines are sweet, fruity and candy-like. Fermented in the skins, the wine is most often then processed like a white wine. This results in a medium body, blue-purple wine which pairs well with summer favorites from barbecue to ice cream, making it the perfect wine to sip during Show-Me State summers, according to missouriwine.org

 

Wine Tiki Torches

July 14, 2020

Upcycle your empty wine bottle into a beautiful tiki torch that will be sure to give your outdoor space a “glow-up.” You’ll be able to sip your favorite Show Me State wine on your patio, while their sweet scent will keep any bugs at bay. These tiki torches make great gifts and are a beautiful addition to any outdoor entertaining space.

What You Will Need:

Wine bottles with the labels removed
Tiki torch wicks
Plumbing tape
1/2"-3/8" Copper reducing coupler
1/2" Copper cap
Citronella lamp or Tiki torch oil
Glass vase beads, marbles, aquarium gravel or pebbles less than 3/8" in diameter

Step 1: Rinse your empty wine bottles inside and out. Carefully peel the labels. If the labels or adhesive is hard to remove, soak the bottles in a warm bath of hot water, white vinegar and dish soap until you can gently scrub away any remaining labels or glue.

Step 2: Carefully pour your glass beads, marbles, aquarium gravel or pebbles into the bottom of the bottle until it is a third or a quarter of the way full. You can choose any item to fill your bottle with as long as the diameter is less than 3/8". Have fun selecting your stones, beads or marbles – picking ones that will provide a pop of color to your patio or match your outdoor furniture or decorations. A funnel will make it quicker and easier to fill the bottles.

Step 3: Insert your wick into the copper coupler with about ½" sticking out past the coupler's narrower end.

Step 4: Wrap plumber's tape around the wider end of the copper coupling. This will help to seal the bottle when you insert your wick and coupling. Each bottle will vary slightly in diameter, but we found between 5-10 wraps with the tape made for a snug fit.

Step 5: Fill the bottle to the base of the neck with tiki torch fuel. Citronella oil is an excellent choice for summer nights as its sweet smell helps keep the insects at bay. This is another instance where a funnel can help make this step quicker and less messy.

Step 6: Insert your prepared wick and coupling into the filled bottle with the long side of the wick and the broader end of the coupling fitting into the bottle. Push the coupling firmly into the mouth of the bottle until you've passed the plumber's tape and only the smaller end of the coupling and a 1/2" of wick are outside of the bottle. Please note if you believe you need to add more plumber's tape to better seal your torch or remove some tape so the coupling will fit into the bottle, remove the wick and coupling and make appropriate adjustments before re-inserting it in your bottle.

Step 7: Let your new torch sit for about 15 minutes to allow the neck wick to soak up the tiki torch oil.

Step 8: Light the wick and enjoy your new upcycled wine bottle tiki torch. Its beautiful, soft glow will illuminate your outdoor space and its sweet smell will keep bugs at bay while you sip your favorite Missouri wine on a warm summer night.

Step 9: When you're ready to head back indoors, blow out your torch and place the copper cap over the wick to prevent any water from soaking into the wick and making it harder to light next time you'd like to give your patio a "glow up."

 

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