Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chandler Hill Winery

Tony has stopped at a few of the Missouri wineries for lunch, but this was my first.  Many people don't know this, but prior to prohibition, Missouri was the second largest wine producing state in the country.  Today, over 100 wineries operate in the state.  Both German and Italian immigrants developed wines along the Missouri River from grapes grown by local Native Americans.

Chandler Hill has the distinction of being the nearest, fully operating winery to St. Louis.  It's a short 35 minute drive from the city.  Given how flat St. Louis is, it always surprises me how close we are to large hills.  To enter Chandler Hill, you first drive through the rolling hills of Chambourcin.

This is the view that greets you once you turn onto the property.

Tasting room - I love the large chandelier over the bar.

In addition to the tables and chairs for the restaurant, there are also comfy leather couches and overstuffed chairs.

The 4,500 square foot wine deck is definitely the highlight.  As you can see, the back part of it was still closed off for the winter months.  If you wanted to enjoy the view while staying warm, there were couches, chairs with ottomans, and tables along with heaters.  Since it was sunny and 60 degrees, we decided to sit outside.  It was a little chilly with the wind, but well worth the view.

On Saturday afternoons, they have local bands play for a few hours out on the deck.  

View from the wine deck.

When building the vineyard in 2007, the owners decided to keep the old farmhouse.  It now stands at the entrance to the property.  Extra parking lots are down there with shuttles available for a ride up to the winery.

Chandler Hill takes its name from a freed slave named Joseph Chandler.  In the early 1870s, he settled near Defiance, MO and befriended a family who lived nearby.  As a free man, he worked on their farm for several years.  The family eventually deeded him 40 acres of their land including a hill overlooking the Femme Osage Valley.

Chandler died in 1952 at the age of 103.  The winery is located on the same 40 acres that he once owned.  The tasting room and winery are located where his cabin was built at the top of the hill.  They actually used the stones from his original cabin to build a large water feature in the front of the winery.  Artifacts of his that were discovered during excavation are now on display throughout the tasting room.

I forget that spring won't be in full bloom for us for another couple of weeks.  We'll have to go back when this is filled with greenery and grapes.

When we first arrived, we were one of only a handful of cars in the parking lot.  This was the site that greeted us when we exited after our long lunch.  Tony had to get a picture.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Orchid Show

On the day that we visited the Botanical Garden, it was also the last day of the 2011 Orchid Show.  This annual event is the only time when a vast, rotating selection of orchids from the Garden's historic collection is made available to the public.  Up to 800 blooming orchids set in a Maya-themed accent were featured.  

I was surprised to learn that the Botanical Garden here in St. Louis maintains one of the largest orchid collections in the nation, with over 7,500 individual orchid plants representing approximately 280 genera and including over 2,500 unique orchid taxa.  That's a lot of orchids!  The Garden's orchid history dates back to 1876, when the first one ones were gifted to Garden founder Henry Shaw.  The collection was expanded in the 1920s when Garden horticulturist George Pring added 5,000 from a collection trip to South America.  

I wish that Tony had taken some pictures of the Mayan influences that were set into the show.  The theme this year was chosen as a nod to the much-discussed Maya "Long Count" calendar, which reaches its end in 2012.  Life-sized, moss-colored mannequins with elaborate head pieces were posed throughout the 5,000 square foot display area.  A large serpent fountain, stone statues, and towers were also part of the display. The jungle-like environment was even complete with a light fog that meandered through the pathways to add to the ambiance.

At the end of the day, I was mesmerized with the hundreds of orchids.

These were my favorite.  Their petals seem to have been dipped in glitter.

LSU Orchids :)