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Grape Expectations

The “Show-Me” State has a lot to show wine lovers all year-round.

With award-winning wines, 10 trails and more than 1,700 acres of grape-bearing vines, Missouri beckons to wine lovers!

“Unpretentious and yet adventurous, our Missouri Wines pair perfectly with the Missouri way of life,” says Danene Beedle, marketing director of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board. “Throughout the state you’ll discover charming wineries, beautiful views and wines as unique and authentic as the people who make them.”

Every year the state draws 950,000 wine-related tourists, lured by the appeal of 130 wineries on 10 wine trails. Each trail is unique, allowing tourists not only a variety of wineries to visit but also special events year-round where guests can taste a wide variety of wine and food pairings.

There are six wineries along the Route du Vin wine trail located in the French heritage town of Ste. Genevieve in Southeast Missouri. Fun themed events are featured in this wine mecca throughout the year, such as a diva weekend for a girlfriend getaway and the Jour de la Terre to celebrate Earth Day. The Ozark Mountain Wine Trail, situated in southwest Missouri, winds through picturesque terrain and covers the largest geographical area covered on a wine trail. The Missouri Weinstrasse is in the heart of the country’s first designated American Viticulture Area, Augusta. There are three other AVAs: Ozark Mountain, Ozark Highlands and Hermann.

The state has a storied winemaking history that dates to the 1800s. Today, the Missouri wine industry is regarded as a leader in Midwest wine production, winning top awards from international competitions year after year.

“Missouri wine country offers a taste of the heartland with varietals that thrive in our unique weather conditions,” Beedle says. Since vinifera (vine species) such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot aren’t suited for the local terroir (soil), vintners have fostered a culture of innovation and experimentation that produce award-winning wines. Grapes have been chosen specifically for the local terroir, and some popular varieties include Chambourcin, Chardonel and Vidal Blanc.

For red wine fans, Norton (the official state grape) reigns supreme. Because of its tannic structure and acidity, it ages well. Missouri winemakers often age Norton wines in barrels prior to bottling, which imparts unique and compelling characteristics.

White wine sippers will enjoy Vignoles, a French-American hybrid that’s one of Missouri’s most versatile white grapes. It produces wines ranging from dry to sweet, late harvest dessert wines. With its floral aroma, crisp flavors of pineapple and apricot, and food-friendliness, this white is a favorite among Missouri’s wine buyers.

There’s no shortage of things to do in Missouri Wine country. Wine’s best friend is food, and foodies will find top-notch restaurants that serve a variety of fare from German to upscale New American. Scores of wineries have full-service restaurants on site. Shoppers will love the variety of retail therapy options, from outlet stores to antique stores. Enjoy the great outdoors by exploring the Katy Trail, a 237-mile trail stretching across most of the state. It’s built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, and it’s ideal for walking, hiking, running or cycling. Take a break by stopping at one of the 19 wineries along the trail.

When tourists are ready to rest their heads after a long day of sipping, shopping and eating, accommodations range from glamping (glamorous camping) to charming bed and breakfasts. Don’t forget the wine!

Ready to plan your trip to Missouri Wine country? Find more information at missouriwine.org.