Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hermann Wine Trail #1

On a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon in October, we decided to do a bit more exploring in the Hermann, Missouri area.  Hermann is right in the heart of Missouri wine country, and October is supposed to be its most glorious month.  The plan was to visit all of the wineries on the Hermman Wine Trail.

Our first stop was at the Adam Puchta Winery.  Tucked away on the original homestead of Adam Puchta and on the banks of Frene Creek, this is the oldest family farm winery in Missouri.  The same family has continously owned it since 1855. 

Adam Puchta emigrated to the United States from Bovaria.  Upon arriving in Missouri, the family settled on a 40-acre tract of land adjacent to the winery.  He later expanded the family homestead in 1849 to include the 40-acres that currently make up the winery.

Once Adam returned to Hermann following a gold-seeking trip to California, he purchaed the beautiful 40-acres from his father.  He began clearning land for crops and vineyards, and in 1855  produced his first wine using wild grapes and grapes from his father's vineyard.  This first production of Adam Puchta establishes the genesis of the winery.

Today, Adam Puchta Winery has a production capacity of 62,000 gallons.  That is a lot of wine!  They have won many awards where in Missouri, as well as nationally and internationally.

While there, I sampled four of their wines.  The semi sweet Adam's Choice and Vignoles, as well as the Riefenstahler and Jazz Berry from the sweet/fruit wines.  I didn't like either of the sweet wines that I tried, they were both way too sweet.  The Riefenstahler tasted like I was drinking jelly.  The Vignoles was probably my favorite.  It's a semi-sweet white wine with peach, strawberry, and kiwi fruit, and finishes with a citrus taste. 

Our next stop was to the Stone Hill Winery.  We had been before, but wanted to take a tour of the underground cellars.  Unfortunately, the electricity was out at the property.  Since you couldn't do anything, we quickly moved on.

The next stop was Hermannhof.  Based on the websites, this was the one that  Iwas most looking forward to as it showed a beautiful, sweeping view of the Missouri River Valley.  I have no idea where they took those photos from because this winery is actually located in downtown Hermann, right next to the train station.

While there, I elected to try four of their wines.  Vidal Blanc (Dry White), Chambourin Vin-Gris (Dry Rose), White Lady of Starkenburg (Semi-Dry White), and the Vignoles (Semi-Sweet) were my selections.  Of those, the White Lady was my favorite.  I am actually a little disappointed that I didn't pick up a bottle.  It is a German Riesling with citrus and green apple.  Definitely a great spring/summer wine.

Patio area for Hermannhof

In 1974, Hermannhof Cellars were purchased by the Dierberg family.  The Dierberg father had opened a small grocery store.  One of his sons took over the grocery store and has now grown it into a very large chain throughout the Midwest, while the other decided to make wine for a living.  In addition to Hermannhof, he also owns three vineyards in California.  I would say that he is doing pretty well for himself!    Three Saints Vineyard, Dierberg Vineyard, and Star Lane Vineyard are the three located in California.  Recently, they have opened up a small tasting room for the three right next door to Hermannhof.  These were by far the best wines that we tasted all day.  While others were good, the three from California were in a completely different class from the other vineyards that we tried.  If you ever see these on a shelf, do yourself a favor and pick one up.  I'm not a red fan, but Tony and Jean raved over the taste of their Pinot Noir.

OakGlenn Winery was next on our trail.  Once owned by internationally renowned horticulturist George Husmann, a founding father of the American wine industry, this winery has by far the best views.  Husmann also served in the Civil War, served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, and drafted "An Ordinance Abolishing Slavery in Missouri," the first to be enacted in the United States.

Outdoor deck area takes advantage of the views.  They had a great musician playing while we were there.  We stayed much longer than planned because we were enjoying listening to him play.

Sitting high on the Missouri River bluff, OakGlenn Winery commands a spectacular view of the river valley and vineyards.  Unfortunately, their wines are awful.  These were by far some of the worst wines that I have ever tasted.  After tasting five of them, we gave up and just bought bottles of water to drink outside while we enjoyed the views and the music.

That's long enough for now!  I will cover the additional wineries on the trail in a future post.