When most people think about wine country in the States, the first place that comes to mind is Napa Valley, CA. However, any Missourian from the Saint Louis area will tell you Missouri has it’s very own wine country, found primarily in the towns of Augusta and Hermann.
Hermann, Missouri is the home of the Hermann Wine Trail. There are seven wineries on the trail with five of the wineries very close to the heart of Hermann. I’ve wanted to explore this section of Missouri wine country since I turned 21, but my transition back home from college and a pretty crazy work schedule did not put the cards in my favor.
That was until one of my closest childhood friends moved out to Owensville, MO. Owensville is a very quaint town about 40 minutes south of Hermann, making the wine trail a perfect location for us to meet up for a girls’ day out. We picked a day and met up in the center of Hermann to go on a wine-fulled adventure.
We narrowed our wine trail adventure down to three wineries on the map: OakGlenn Wineyards & Winery, Stone Hill Winery, and Hermannhof Winery. My friend had been to most of the wineries in town previously and said these were her favorites.
OakGlenn was our first stop and we were on a mission. That mission was to try their wine slushies. We each decided on their ice tea wine slushie, which was one of the two flavors available for the day. If sweet tea and a tangy white wine had a baby, this would be the result. We enjoyed our wine slushies on the patio of the winery, taking in the scenery, and catching up on life. It was definitely the perfect start to our little adventure.
Our second stop was Stone Hill. This is the winery I’m most familiar with in the Hermann area. Stone Hill is a Saint Louis staple and can be found in most of our local grocery stores. Their blackberry wine is one of my number one go-to’s when I’m going to a girls’ night that is BYOB.
We decided to do the tasting at Stone Hill, going through their many options together and then picking out a bottle of our mutual favorite. We both happened to really like the Jacquesse Kick’n Kosmo. As you can tell by the wine’s name, Stone Hill took inspiration for the classic Cosmopolitan cocktail and created a delicious blend of cranberry and lime in a rosé base. As a person who leans more towards sweet wines, this was a great compromise for myself and my friend who leans towards drier wines. Stone Hill also have a Kick’n Kolada, Sangria, and Berry in their Jacquesse collection. It’s definitely a unique and fun collection if you’re a new wine drinker that is still trying to figure out what wines they like.
Our final winery of the day was Hermannhof Winery. This winery is probably Hermann’s biggest tourist attraction in respects to wine. There is a self-guided wine cellar tour along with a tasting room and a cheese counter. The winery also has a restaurant attached, but we decided to stick to wine while there.
As my friend and I walked through the cellar tour, she explained how Hermann, MO became the wine country that it is today. It’s all thanks to Jim Dierberg. The Dierberg family is very prominent in the Saint Louis and Saint Charles community. Jim’s brother, William, was the founder of a large chain of markets in the area (Dierbergs) while Jim decided to go into wine.
The workers at Hermannhof were very knowledgable, not only about the wines made at Hermannhof but about Missouri wines in general. As the one worker explained, each state’s soil has a physical impact on the flavors of its local wines. The wines you find in Missouri are going to be much sweeter than the ones you find in Napa, simply because of the acidity levels in the soil. The very ground you walk on impacts the flavors and complexities of the very wine you drink. I find that fascinating.
This same worker also gave us an awesome tip. If you ever find yourself with one bottle of dry wine to share with a group of varying palettes, buy a bottle of grape juice. That way, if someone likes their wine sweeter they can add a little bit of juice and it won’t water down the wine. It’s a cheaper alternative than buying a bottle of wine for every taste and will definitely keep your guests happy.
My freind and I ended up buying a bottle of the White Lady of Starkenburg, per staff recommendation. It was, again, a perfect compromise for our two palletes and left us very content at the end of our tasting.
We finished our day by having lunch at Fernweh Distilling Company. That’s right, Fernweh. If my blog’s title doesn’t give it a way, fernweh is one of my favorite words. I’m not even ashamed to say that I had a serious fangirl moment when I saw the distillary as I entered Hermann, pulled over, and took the picture featured on the right. I knew I had to go in before leaving simply because of the name.
We were all wined out by the time we got to Fernweh Distilling Co. so we just stuck with food. It definitely did not disappoint. I got their shrimp po-boy with a side of sweet potato fries and devowered every last thing on my plate. The resturaunt has a classy semi-casual vibe. It seems like a fun place for a date night or great location to meet up with friends for Happy Hour. It was a perfect way to end the day and I look forward to going back some day to actually trying the spirits available there.
The tourism that the wineries have brought Hermann has caused a bit of a divide among the locals in the town. Half of the people see the tourism as a positive influence on the town’s economy while the other half could do without the troves of people the wineries attract. Whatever side you stand on, I feel Hermann has done a fantastic job keeping its small town charm intacked while keeping up with the growing popularity of its wine industry.
If you like wine and want a laidback wine country experience, come visit Napa Valley’s Midwestern cousin. It’s definitely worth the trip.