It’s Missouri Wine Month, in addition to what seems like every-other-state-you-can-think-of’s wine month. We kid, we kid…actually, it is a honor to be able to look into the history and immigration that led to the creation of what once was the largest producing wine state in the union during a period of the civil war with over 100 wineries at the time.
The history of the Missouri wine industry goes back to 1837 when German and Italian immigrants furthered local grape cultivation initiated by local Native American tribes. The Germans were the first to arrive in the Missouri river valley with the focus being on Hermann, Missouri where ideal grape growing conditions were identified. The result was naming of the wine corridor the Missouri “Rhineland”.
The Italians moved in shortly after, and by the mid 1880s Missouri had out produced all the other states with wine production.
During this time, the Stone Hill Winery in Hermann had become the second largest in the nation and third largest in the world. The winery enjoyed acclaim when it’s wines won awards at the world fairs in Austria and Pennsylvania.
During prohibition the wine industry was decimated, leaving only 1 winery standing for sacramental purposes, the St. Stanislaus Seminary. The rebound for the states wine industry occurred with the reopening of Stone Hill in 1965.
By 1980 the first AVA, Augusta, was recognized, followed in 1983 by the Hermann AVA. The aforementioned Germans and Italians had also set up shop in Rolla, Missouri which was distinguished by the creation of the Ozark Mountain AVA in 1986 and the Ozark Highlands AVA in 1987.
If you plan on visiting Missouri for a wine tour, there are 5 distinct wine trails for you to enjoy that are frequented by locals, which makes for a great opportunity to find out which small local wineries are under the radar, and worth visiting. If you’re a fan of history, we’d recommend the Weinstrasse along Route 94, America’s first wine trail.