Did you know that the Norton (Vitis Aestivalis, for the sciency types), or Cynthiana (a genetically identical grape) is the oldest American grape still grown? And that our state is the largest producer of the Norton grape. In fact, our state grape is the Norton. Because of our ever-changing climate, the grape flourishes. Built to withstand Missouri's sweltering heat with its hearty vine, and able to thrive in our rocky soil.
Norton's blue-black coloring produces a rich, full-bodied red wine with robust berry flavors, making it an excellent pairing with beef (Tri-tip anyone?) and complex cheeses. Missouri Vineyards all over the region have been producing excellent quality Norton, or Cynthiana wines from Adam Puchta Winery in Hermann, MO to Little Hills Winery in St. Charles.
So, the next time you go to purchase a bottle of wine at Harter House, pass on the Merlot, Cabernet, or Shiraz, and try a bottle of a local favorite for a change, the proud Norton. Just stop by Harter House World Flavors and ask about the Norton's we have in stock and we will gladly point you to the little grape that was brought here by German immigrants over a 100 years ago, to a little town called Hermann, Missouri, and then sit back and take in the rich, delicious history of Missouri Wine.
You might not know that before prohibition, Missouri was the second largest Wine producer in the U.S. In 2009 there were 92 wineries operating in the state of Missouri. ]We have a fantastic history and one that can be enjoyed over any weekend you feel like getting away. Listed below is a short list of the wineries here in the Show-Me State. Most provide free samplings, some have food and entertainment in the form of tours, music and just relaxing with good friends and great wine.
St. James Winery - A great place to stop on your way to St. Louis, right off I-44.
At Adam Puchta Winery, my absolute favorite is their Port, and for good reason. Where most Ports come off as a syrupy mess, Adam Puchta knows how to bring out subtlety and calms the sweetness with floral accents. Actually, I take that back, that's just me being fancy-shmancy, it's just really good.
7C's Winery - Specialize in fruit wines. Located extremely close in Walnut Grove.
Stone Hill - There is nothing wrong with the Branson location, but for a taste of what it is really like to be at a vineyard, go to the original located in Hermann, MO, especially NOW for Oktoberfest.
Montelle Winery - This Winery in Augusta has won tons of awards and once you taste, you will know why. Prepare for the gorgeous deck to sit at that will take your breath away. I cannot praise the setting enough, and when music plays on the weekend, I can just open a bottle, sit back and let my day just move along at it's own pace from the outside world.
|The deck overlooking the Missouri Hills at Montelle. One word: breathtaking.|
Hermannhof Winery - If you have never been to Hermannhof, you do not have the right to call yourself a Missourian. Every October, it is tradition to sit on the hill overlooking Hermannhof, eat cheese, drink wine, and smile as you feel the warmth (and polka music) overtake you.
|The Hill at Hermannhof. A challenge after a couple glasses|
Robller Vineyard Winery - The beauty of Missouri vineyards is that they are a family affair, and with Robller Vineyard it shows, run by Robert and Lois Mueller, and their 3 children, for over 30 years.
OOVVDA Winery - If you like fruit wine and staying close, this is the place for you. Located just outside of Springfield, OOVVDA specializes in Raspberry, Cherry, Strawberry and several other varieties of fruit wine.
This is an extremely short list, and does not even touch the tip of the iceberg of Missouri Wines. We have over 300-plus wineries in Missouri, and it would take probably a lifetime to visit them all (although I will try!). I have had many good times with my family and friends at several of these wineries, and it is a tradition that I will pass on to my children and my children's children. It is a part of Missouri's heritage and one we should be both proud of and protect. Stop by Harter House today and try our wines for yourself, and one of these weekends, pack up, grab your family and friend's, a blanket, and prepare yourself for a great time.
Harter House and Harter House World Flavors carries several varieties of Missouri Wines. Come in today and find your favorite!
Special thanks to MO Wine Girl for her expertise when it comes to Missouri wine and knowledge of the Norton grape. If you don't follow her Facebook or her wonderful websites, you need to, right now.
Her Mo Wine website: www.missouriwine.org