October 13, 2023
“You need to have the passion for agriculture and never lose it because that is what drives the winery,” says Sarah Schmidt, Baltimore Bend Winery Co-Owner.
Passion is certainly what drives Sarah, as her and her co-owners are rapidly approaching 20 years in the wine industry. Sarah says that it is a family business, starting back in 1997 alongside her parents and brother.
“We wanted to start this winery because of our love for the creation of wine itself. We were all wine drinkers and wanted to share what we were growing in the vineyard,” Sarah says. Although they had been growing grapes for several years prior, the tasting room did not open until November 3, 2003.
Their goal for opening the tasting room was to try out their own craft, bringing together the science of making wine and the creativity of flavors. It was about sharing with customers and the public, Sarah says.
Reflecting back on the past 20 years, Sarah says that their business has evolved greatly. Not only is their physical building different, with the addition of outdoor seating and an updated tasting room; their expansion into the wholesale market has also helped their business grow.
As many winery owners and agriculturists know, the wine industry has certainly not been easy. Sarah says they have had to adjust to changes in weather, as well as the economy. “We are weathering the storm after 20 years, continuing to just keep moving forward,” she says.
With every falling low, there has been an equal rising high for Baltimore Bend Winery. “It has been fun and interesting to see the progression of the wine industry,” Sarah says. “When we got into business 20 years ago, we were the 52nd or 53rd winery in the state. Now, there are more than 128 wineries.”
In addition to co-owning Baltimore Bend, Sarah also serves as a member of the Wine Marketing and Research Council. The Wine Marketing and Research Council is the check-off program with funds going towards research and marketing projects that promote the consumption of Missouri grape and wine products.
While serving, Sarah says she strives to be the voice for smaller wineries. “Baltimore Bend is not a big winery so I think that projects that are brought to the Council for funding, whether it is for marketing or vineyard research, influence my operation differently,” she says. “I try to look at it from the perspective of a mid to smaller winery and if it would be impactful for the entire industry.”
After taking a step back and seeing all that Baltimore Bend Winery has achieved over the past 20 years, Sarah says she is eager to celebrate the winery’s big anniversary. The winery plans to hold events this year on November 10 and 11.
Partnering with Lex-La-Ray Technical Center’s Culinary Arts program, Nov.10 will entail a small plate food and wine pairing. “We wanted to give experience to the students, as well as just give back to the community,” Sarah says.
The celebration will continue into Saturday, Nov. 11, with all day festivities such as live music, a food truck, and plenty of wine, Sarah says. In addition, Baltimore Bend Winery will be releasing a special edition wine release with a special label commemorating 20 years in business.
November 3, 2003 will always hold a special place in Sarah’s heart. It was the day the tasting room opened 20 years ago. A love for agriculture and a passion for wine is what has driven her and her family to achieve all they have for Baltimore Bend Winery.