Printer Friendly

History and AVAs

Wine in Missouri has a long and storied history. 

Please use the ARROWS below to scroll through the timeline.  Click the YEAR to learn more!


An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Missouri is home to the country’s first designated AVA.  Click AVA below to learn more!

History & AVAs | MO Wine
  1. 1850s

    Within a decade, the settlers established nearly sixty wineries in the Hermann area and produced more than 10,000 gallons of wine per year.

  2. 1870s

    France’s vineyards were plagued by a pest known as the phylloxera louse. Within months, nearly all the country’s grape vines were destroyed. C.V. Riley, Missouri’s first state entomologist, was among the first to discover that Native American grapes were resistant to the pest. Missouri winemakers shipped millions of phylloxera-resistant rootstocks across the Atlantic, ultimately saving the French wine industry.

  3. Late 1800s

    Italian immigrants established vineyards in the St. James area of Missouri. Missouri’s wine industry thrived at the turn of the century, with about 100 wineries throughout the state. Wine connoisseurs enjoyed 2 million gallons of Missouri wine each year. Missouri wines began winning international awards and acclaim.

  4. 1919

    The onset of Prohibition dealt a fatal blow to the Missouri wine industry. Many vineyards were destroyed and wineries were closed or converted to other businesses.

  5. 1960s and 1970s

    The rejuvenation of the Missouri wine industry began slowly and on a very small scale in the 1960s. Two families’ dedication and tenacity brought the industry back to life in their communities. These visionaries worked tirelessly to restore the former historic stature of the state’s wine industry and change the regulatory and cultural landscape of the time. 

  6. 1980s

    A new tax on wine provided for the establishment of the Missouri Wine and Grape program. A state viticulturist was hired to assist in the restoration process, and Missouri State University’s fruit experiment station began working with winemakers to determine grape varieties suitable for Missouri’s climate. Augusta became the first federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1980. The wine regions around Hermann, the southwest Missouri Ozark mountains and highlands, the south central region around St. James and Loess Hills in Northwest MIssouri have also been designated as AVAs.

  7. 2003

    The Norton/Cynthiana varietal is passed in legislation as Missouri’s official state grape.

  8. 2005

    The Missouri Wine and Grape Board is formed. No longer an advisory board, the Wine and Grape Board now directs the marketing and research efforts of the Missouri wine industry.

  9. 2006

    The Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology is established. ICCVE, funded by the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, conducts research on grape varieties and vineyard management techniques that contribute to the growth of the wine industry in Missouri and the Midwest. ICCVE is now known as the Grape and Wine Institute and housed at the University of Missouri – Columbia.

  10. 2011

    The state of Missouri proudly welcomed its 100th winery to its lineup.

  11. 2017

    An economic impact study revealed that the Missouri wine and grape industry generates $3.2 billion for the Show-Me State, $1 billion in annual wages, 28,052 jobs and brings in 875,700 wine-related tourists each year.

AVI Content

An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Missouri is home to the country’s first designated AVA.


The first AVA in the United States was accorded to Augusta, Missouri on June 20, 1980. Seven California districts and one in Oregon had filed applications with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; however, the honor went to the 15 square mile area surrounding Augusta. The bureau cited the unique soil, climate and wines, as well as Augusta’s long history as one of America’s oldest and foremost grape and wine districts. In the mid-1800s German immigrants found the Missouri River area just west of St. Louis to be well suited for growing grapes. Napa Valley was the second AVA named after Augusta on January 28, 1981.


The Ozark Mountain AVA was established on July 2, 1986 and covers a vast 3,500,000 acres in southern Missouri, extending into northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma. The Ozark Mountain AVA is so large, several smaller AVA’s lay within its borders, including Augusta, Hermann and Ozark Highlands. It is the sixth largest AVA in the United States.


The Hermann AVA was recognized on August 18, 1983 and consists of 51,200 acres in the Hermann area between St. Louis and Jefferson City, Missouri. German immigrants settled the Missouri River Valley area in the 1830s and began planting vineyards in what is today one of the most historic wine regions.


The Ozark Highlands AVA was designated on August 31, 1987; although the grape growing tradition goes back to the 1870s. The fourth accorded AVA in Missouri encompasses 1,280,000 acres in south-central Missouri, covering portions of eleven Missouri counties including the town of St. James, Missouri.


The Loess Hills District AVA was established on March 3, 2016 and consists of 12,897 square miles of loess-based hills comprising a long, narrow region along the western banks of the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers in western Iowa and northwestern Missouri. The topography is characterized by rolling to steep hills. The deep loess enables grape vine roots to reach deeply into the soil and allows water to drain quickly.