Norton Grapes and Wines Flourish in Missouri Wine Country
The best wine in the United States was once produced in Missouri wine country. Hermann, Missouri was considered the heart of the country’s quality wine production.
Hermann, Missouri is the heart of what was once the most respected wine region in the United States. Today, Missouri bed and breakfast inns flourish in wine country and wine country tours are popular, particularly along the Katy Trail.
Missouri Wine Industry
The concept of a Missouri Wine Tour brings laughter to many wine connoisseurs today, but history doesn’t have a sense of humor, nor does the sophisticated palette. The reputation began in the 1830s when German immigrants from the Rhine River valley settled near Hermann, a community about 50 miles west of St. Louis, The immigrants, all master vintners in their homeland, began experimenting with grapes that would thrive in the Missouri River valley. In 1873, a Missouri wine was awarded ”Best Red of All Nations” at an international competition in Vienna.
Prohibition destroyed the wine industry in much of the United States, and Missouri laws didn’t adjust to support grape growers until the mid-1960s. Slowly, vineyards of the Show-Me State are returning to their rightful legacy and reputation.
Missouri Wine Tours Feature Norton Grapes and Wine
If any wine is considered “a Missouri wine,” it is the Norton. The Norton grape is the official grape of Missouri, although it was first cultivated in Virginia. Also known as Cynthiana, the Norton grape is the oldest native North American varietal in commercial cultivation today. It is a deep purple grape and one that has produced numerous award-winning red wines from Missouri.
It is such a part of Missouri’s history that each year the Missouri History Museum hosts a Norton Wine Festival that benefits the Missouri Historical Society. Some call the Norton “America’s Red Wine.”
Missouri Wine Trails
Today, Missouri is home to 72 wineries that produce 750,000 gallons of quality, award-winning wine each year
- Stone Hill and St. James are a part of the Hermann Wine Trail near Hermann, the historical heart of Missouri Wine Country.
- Other Missouri wine trails include the Route du Vin, south of St. Louis near historic Ste. Genevieve.
- The Missouri River Wine Trail is near the state capital of Jefferson City.
- The Ozark Mountain Trail is in southwest Missouri, encompassing Branson, Missouri.
- The Missouri Wine Strasse is just west of St. Louis.
In addition, Platte County Missouri, north of Kansas City, has five wineries and a strong following of its young vineyards.