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allisonjv's Wine Journal Entries

Red Moose Vineyards (written Jul 16, 2017)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2012 Norton

Located off the beaten path near Salem, Missouri, this lovely log cabin winery has ample seating space, small plate food offerings, and fantastic dry wines. They planted their vines in 2006 and opened to the public a few years ago. Friendly staff with age-worthy wines oaked in local Missouri oak barrels. The Chambourcin and Nortons are particularly nice, and the blends with these grapes will certainly rival blends coming from other small wineries. The winemaker supports local charities with the proceeds from sales of one of the great blends--Fruition, Wine with a Cause is the name. Fabulous setting near the Current River Hills overlooking the vines, and earnest winemakers and staff. A great addition to the St. James region of Missouri. One of the owners intimated that they were in the process of starting a wine trail, which would certainly increase traffic.

Rosewood Winery (written Oct 01, 2016)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

This is a large operation with a great mission. The dry wine list is extensive, and full of very nice vinifera wines. I arrived when the winemaker was just coming off of his tractor for the afternoon so had a nice chat with him about harvest. Sadly, because Kansas is rife with herbicide use, he lost a lot of his grapes from overspray from an adjacent farm. He's persistent and is continuing to grow grapes and make stellar wine.

Fox Fire Farms (written Oct 01, 2016)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2013 Traminette

This out of the way (but well signed!) winery specializes in wonderful local varietals. On a random September afternoon I made a trip here before a hard frost and had the fantastic opportunity to talk with the winemaker. The setting of the winery is reminiscent of the Willamette Valley with the rolling hills near Durango and outdoor seating overlooking the vineyard. Very friendly and knowledgeable staff and supple wines. I also love hearing that their biggest sellers are the drier wines, hopefully a trend that will continue to grow and result in more dry wine options.

Post Familie Vineyards (written Sep 10, 2016)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2012 Chambourcin

Second visit to Post Familie in two years, and was not disappointed. I like that this little winery outpost serves nice lunches but also allows bringing picnic food into the grounds if they're not serving. This is the only winery that produces a wine bottle with a screen printed label that I cannot throw away. The 2012 Chambourcin is fantastic and I have a hard time wanting to drink it because I like the bottle art so much. The Norton isn't that great, but the Chambourcin is really quite nice. Great setting, friendly folks in an otherwise unfriendly landscape.

Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards and Winery (written Sep 10, 2016)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton Port

It's been a while since there has been an entry on the Chateau Aux Arcs CatchWine page. I paid a wonderful visit here last week on a trip through Arkansas and discovered a really nice building, a nice tasting bar, a lovely host, nice, palatable wines. While I was on the search for Blackland Prairies and certain rare plants, I enjoyed sitting in the manicured garden with all kinds of Deep South cultivars and the natives poking through from lack of horticultural manicuring. I was impressed with the setting, and happy that at least in one area of Arkansas there's a wine trail, considering I was staying in a dry county where I was warned against having any booze even in my hotel room. Eek. Lovely labels. Wines are definitely on the upswing and the Norton is coming along nicely.

Cameo Vineyards (written Aug 23, 2013)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2011 Chambourcin

It's always very nice when traveling from Missouri, the land of wineries near the main route, that we come across similarly located wineries in Illinois. Cameo Vineyards is very well signed off of I-70, and close to the interstate. a nice little log building surrounded by a sweet assortment of vines greets drivers to the site. While Cameo makes their bread and butter off of their sweet offerings, including a pink wine called "Bling," their 2011 Chambourcin is perfect for drinking now. They offer a few blends of dry reds and are very affordable. They are open ample hours which makes it ideal for travelers who want to while away a few hours on their covered porch overlooking the vines. Dry reds are quite nice.

Beachaven Vineyards and Winery (written Jun 22, 2013)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2011 Chambourcin

What a treat to visit this little winery in the town of Clarksville. They tend to sell out of their Norton pretty quickly, so I was fortunate to arrive two days after they released the 2012 vintage. The outdoor seating arrangements under a large white oak canopy was ideal for a day of splitting the Chambourcin and some garlic pepper jack cheese and crackers made available inside. I certainly appreciate that the baristas took care of all the customers in a timely fashion, and that they knew the product very well. I socked away a couple of Nortons for a few years and will drink soon the Chambourcin. Great little winery, glad I stopped in.

Glacial Till Vineyard (written May 05, 2013)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2011 Chambourcin

A fantastic little winery with a commanding view of the vineyard at the top of the tasting room. The very young winemaker is very capable at making supple wines there on site, including a Port. He's interested in branching out to include Cabernet Franc and potentially Norton, which is being done in a few places in Nebraska. The main tasting room is located in a nearby town, but this one opened up for us on a snowy winter's weekday in March, which was a real treat. The Chambourcin will age for a few years, but it's also a drink now wine.

Viandel Vineyard (written May 05, 2013)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton

Located in a small little building along the highway, the main artery through this part of the Ozarks, Viandel is operated by a very enthusiastic gentleman who learned how to make wine through online courses. He's doing a fine job at making dry reds such as his Chambourcin. This small little Ozark outpost is the site of numerous parties and local gatherings. I especially appreciated that he was open in the middle of the week in the dead of winter 2012. Very earnest winemaker who is dedicated to perfecting his craft. The Chambourcin was full bodied and lightly oaked. It's earnest wineries like Viandel that make it such a pleasure to travel around Missouri in search of good wine.

Red Fox Winery (written May 05, 2013)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

A charming rural winery in an old barn that has been transformed into a nice little restaurant that serves as the local community's gathering place. I stopped in on a Friday afternoon and was charmed by the genuine staff at the tasting bar. The dry red wines were palatable but a little heavy. I enjoyed a glass of the Chambourcin and a great little hummus plate while being surrounded by locals and travelers alike enjoying the winery.

Cave Hollow West Winery (written May 05, 2013)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Norton

This is a small operation near a show cave in Hannibal, serving as an outpost of West Winery in Macon. The dry reds are particularly nice, with the Norton weighing in as a smooth, lightly oaked number. I suspect this place becomes very crowded during special events and the small tasting bar may not hold as many folks as the attached restaurant. Like most newer wineries in Missouri today, Cave Hollow West also sells wine related gifts (hand painted glasses, tshirts, etc). It's a very scenic drive through the Mississippi River Hills and the wine makes it worth the trip.

Eagle's Nest Winery (written Dec 01, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Norton

Located in a charming downtown setting, this is a little retail location attached to a restaurant with wines made in Rocheport. The Norton was very sturdy and quite capable. I bought a Chambourcin-Cabernet blend and wasn't charged the 4$ tasting fee since I only wanted a taste of the dry reds. This is another winery that specializes in sweet wines. Head towards Hannibal to Cave Hollow at the Mark Twain Cave location (also on Hwy 79) for a good winery experience. I would have liked to have stayed at the restaurant as it looked like a nice place to eat...

Indian Hills Winery (written Nov 26, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Chambourcin

The owners are among the friendliest folks I encountered the entire time I was in the area. They specialize in sweeter varietals, but they make nice dry wines, and the setting in a rural area overlooking a wooded setting makes this winery a destination. Very nice folks, reasonable prices, and a variety of wines to suit every palate. They offer small snack trays, too, and have a good dog to keep you company.

Hemman Winery (written Nov 26, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Chambourcin

Easy directions to end up at Hemman Winery, located in the old downtown General Store. They once specialized in ultra sweet wines, but are branching out into drier varietals. I bought a Chambourcin which was very nice, and their semi-dry fruit wines like the Cranberry are also very palatable. Nice folks, friendly atmosphere, certainly the place is a locus of activity for the town of Brazeau. They're making a fine product here....

Persimmon Ridge Vineyards (written Nov 26, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2008 Norton

Fantastic owner who is committed to making good wine for all palates. He makes sweet wines for the sweet wine crowd, but excels in the dry wine sector by making a fantastic Norton that is distinctive for this part of the state. Neat atmosphere with live music offerings, food, a good dog to pet, and good wine. Certainly a highlight of the county!

Crown Valley Winery Brewery Distillery (written Nov 26, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

This outpost of Crown Valley doesn't offer tastings, but a by the glass setting. You can buy most of Crown Valley's offerings here, but don't expect a tasting or a winery setting.

Durso Hills Vineyard and Winery (written Nov 26, 2012)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2006 Norton

I've visited a lot of wineries in Missouri's Ozark Highlands, and I think this may be among my favorite. Durso Hills came highly recommended from a southeast Missouri winery whose owner depends on the Durso Hills folks to tell him what he's doing wrong or right with his wine. Durso Hills is doing everything right, at least as far as the dry reds go. Offering three different vintages of Norton is always attractive, with each one totally distinct from the other: 05- brambly and lightly oaked, 06- heavier on the oak and smooth finish, and 09 Van Matre- vibrant and full of life. His Traminette is floral and bright, perfect for a fish dinner, and his other dry offerings are exemplary examples of the grape. This may be my favorite Ozark Highlands winery.

St. Jordan Creek Winery (written Nov 26, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton

This is a very fine winery on the Hwy 50 route of other wineries. They produce sweet wines for the customers and also very fine dry wines for others. A nice setting in rural Gasconade River Hills country overlooking a valley, a perfect place to spend an afternoon over cheese and crackers and a nice bottle of wine.

Apple Creek Vineyards (written Nov 26, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Norton

Located outside of Cape Girardeau, this rustic setting is a perfect place to spend an afternoon over a nice bottle of wine. The vintners have done a wonderful job with the dry wines, and also make sweet varietals as per Missouri tastebuds require. They grow a lot of grapes on the property and buy grapes of other varietals that they're not growing. Terrific room surrounded by a wooded setting, with a great menu of pizzas and warm dinner entrees available. The winemaker here is dedicated to making fantastic wine and he's well on his way of doing so.

Van Till Family Farm and Winery (written Nov 05, 2012)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Norton

Very nice little winery in the KC area. Beautiful tasting room and a brick oven in which they can make pizzas. Nice staff, I was able to meet the winemaker, which is always a treat. She's a terrific woman with significant verve for life. They offer a good number of dry wines, and a few sweet wines. The 2010 Norton is drinkable now, which is rare for most Nortons. Big oak, which I love, and heady Norton characteristics.

St. Francois Winery (written Nov 05, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: Chambourcin

Neat little rural winery in St. Francois Co. I liked the rustic setting, and that the owner was available for a tasting even on a Wednesday afternoon as I was driving to Louisiana. The wines were distinctive, and I picked up a bottle of Chambourcin as a housewarming gift. The owner has the passion to make great wine, and he's definitely working towards a goal.

Riverwood Winery (written Nov 05, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Chambourcin

The Chambourcin here was remarkably fantastic. The day I visited, they were also serving mulled wine made with one of their sweeter red wines. I didn't taste it, but I appreciated how there's a wine for every palate at this winery. Indeed, this is one of the coolest locations for a winery in this part of the state, an old elementary school with all original fixtures and spaces. Dining in the gymnasium, the tasting room in a classroom. They even have a blackboard in place. The ambiance was fantastic, and I suspect the dry whites are as great as the Chambourcin.

Pirtle Winery (written Nov 05, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Norton

A fantastic, thriving downtown, and a great location. It's not their fault that the place was a veritable zoo when I visited on a fall Saturday. The staff were overwhelmed by visitors to the winery. I very quickly tasted the Norton and left, empty handed, because while the wine was nice, it was too much--too crowded, too fast of an experience, and too small a pour to really get the true colors of the wine. They offer a wide variety of wines that are clearly very well made, and the setting is incredibly intimate and nice. Many people are attracted to this winery for good reason.

Ladoga Ridge Winery (written Nov 05, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Chambourcin

This nice winery outside of KC has beautiful grounds, and ample space at the tasting bar. The Norton was full bodied, and not unlike other Nortons being produced in western Missouri. I picked up a 2010 Chambourcin to drink now, as it had more character than the Norton. It gets pretty crowded on weekend days, and the staff are as friendly as they can be under such crowded conditions.

Fence Stile Vineyards & Winery (written Nov 05, 2012)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 NorCyn

What a beautiful building, a farm house converted to a winery, with the place for the tractor now holding barrels and little two top tables. Impressive wines, made by a fantastic gentleman from California. His NorCyn, a Norton in a Cynthiana way, is particularly fantastic, and his blends of Missouri grapes are dead on for a good, solid, dry red wine winery. Very earnest operation that I hope prospers in that neck of the woods. These wines have ageability, and I'll be tucking away my purchases for a couple of years.

Belvoir Winery (written Nov 05, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 2010 Casanova

What a beautiful building, carefully maintained with original fixtures. The tasting bar is very small and cramped on a Saturday afternoon, but the staff are obviously well versed in dealing with large groups. I only tasted the dry reds and came away with a blend of Norton, possibly Syrah? This is a place that caters to large groups, weddings, showers, etc. Beautiful building. The wine wasn't as impressive as the building, but that may be because I felt rushed so they could get the next big group into the tasting bar.

Buck Creek Winery (written Oct 15, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: William Lloyd Reserve 2010

Buck Creek is a terrific Indiana winery located just off the highway, with great signage to get you there very quickly. I appreciated that they were open at 10am as I was driving through the area, and that, as a family-owned winery, I had the great pleasure of meeting the winemaker's mother in law. A delightful lady who walked us through all the dry reds. They buy grapes from California, but they make terrific estate wines from Chambourcin, Corot Noir. Very affordable and friendly winery.

Belmont Vineyards (written Oct 15, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Chambourcin

Nice, pet friendly operation just off the highway. They serve lunch here, and the tasting bar can accomodate upwards of 25 people at once. Belmont must be a destination location for locals, considering how packed the place was on Saturday afternoon. Good wines, and a nice lunch menu.

Chateau Thomas Winery (written Aug 25, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Located in a developed area of hotels, gas stations, and midrange restaurants, this winery is just off the highway and open most days of the week. They buy their grapes from California, so they don't offer a Traminette, the state grape of Indiana, or locally produced dry reds. Very nice setting, and very capable wines with terrific staff.

Chandler Hill Vineyards (written Aug 25, 2012)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton

It was a packed house on Saturday midday, but the folks manning the tasting bar ably accommodated my tasting. Excellent wines, all of the dry reds, but I'm not crazy about the California-style atmosphere. Nevertheless, they sure are making great wines...

Little Hills Winery (written Jul 30, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 07 Norton

Fancy digs in a nice downtown restaurant, I didn't visit the actual winery but went to the winery without seeing the winery. Located in the charming historic downtown of St. Charles, Little Hills makes very nice dry reds which they serve by the glass at the attached restaurant. Nice staff and good, old vintages of Norton.

7C's Winery (written Jul 30, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Branding Iron Red

Nice little rural location that must certainly serve the local communities well. It had been over two hours since we last left a winery, so they have a great presence located on the Springfield Plain in the far western reaches of the Ozark Highlands of Missouri. Even though I'm a vegetarian who has issues with cattle from a biodiversity and ecological standpoint, their nod to the local grazing community in their entire winery operation certainly smacks of authenticity. The Branding Iron Red is a nice little Chambourcin and reasonably priced. I didn't let it sit around too long and enjoyed it only days after I bought it, best served through an aerator and in a Norton Reidel glass. Like other good Missouri wineries, they're blending St. Vincent and Chambourcin to great effect. Very friendly place.

West Winery (written Jul 14, 2012)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Chambourcin Reserve

Holy cow, I can't believe that the place I visited today elicited responses such as the two below. West Winery is located in the charming downtown of Macon in a beautifully refurbished building. We arrived when they were bottling something so the wonderful aromas of a working winery wafted through the place. The owner's wife was the barista today, a beautiful, charming woman who walked us through the dry reds giving us all the good details that make a winery visit worth the trip. Terrific dry reds, all of them, and their Chambourcin really nails it--act fast for the Reserve bottling, they're on their last case of it. Heavy on the oak and a big fruit forward nose, a super smooth finish. They offer three Chambourcins and three vintages of Norton--the 08 Norton is extremely nice, and the 10 is tight now, but to be expected with only two years in the bottle. Customer service is a primary driver here, with good, personable staff and terrific wine. We'll be back here and I look forward to opening the fancy reserve Chambourcin with special people I care about. Very nice dry wines and a good adventurous dry apple wine made with Arkansas Blacks. Certainly worth the hour drive from Columbia!

Whispering Oaks Vineyard and Winery (written Jun 21, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 2 stars

Favorite Wine: St. Vincent

A terrific room with ample seating and a wide variety of wines to sample. I wasn't too impressed with the Norton, but I'm not certain if the bottle had been opened too long or the character is more tart than other local Nortons. Like Traminettes, the St. Vincent wines in Missouri are highly variable and tend to be very interesting. This one is very nice, with a smooth finish. It rounded out my 6 pack of Missouri wine as a Father's Day gift that also included a Don Virgilio St. Vincent, a small new winery up the road from Whispering Oaks on Hwy. 60. Maybe it was late in the day, but the barrister wasn't very engaging until he realized I actually DRINK WINE and wanted to know more about what they were doing at Whispering Oaks.

Phoenix Winery and Vineyards (written May 11, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Hm, not sure why the note above says that this winery is closed to the public. I pulled into the parking lot at noon on a Tuesday and the door to the winery was wide open, with a note in the window instructing me to honk my horn for service. I did so, and met the owner, a very charming older gentleman from Frankfurt Germany who takes pride in his German style wines. He makes very capable Burgundian style wines, and opens his patio for homemade sausage and crackers and wine on weekends, complete with piped in German music. He's growing some curious grapes, including some stock from the motherland. Nice Traminette blend, and a good pinot noir style blend with St. Vincent and Chambourcin. Young wines, but will likely improve with age. Definitely worth stopping in the next time you're on Hwy 50 in Osage County.

Eichenberg Winery (written May 11, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 08 Norton

I opened Eichenburg's 08 Norton this week and was really impressed with the depth of character and heavy oak that came out as the bottle stayed open through the night. They may be selling younger vintages, but it's worth sticking away for a few years.

Wenwood Farm Winery (written May 11, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

A charming farm house located down a gravel road in the Gasconade River Hills, Wenwood Farm Winery specializes in sweeter varieties and offers only a couple of dry wines. They don't keep vintages around very long, so it's difficult to find an older Norton blend (Heritage), but I picked up a bottle to age at home for a few years. They have food and entertainment on weekends, a truly charming place. I only tasted the dry red and thought it was nice enough with the right setting though needs aging. Nice folks, good border collie who greets you in the parking lot.

Buffalo Creek Vineyards and Winery (written Apr 15, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Seyval Blanc

I first visited Buffalo Creek in 2003. The original owner died in 06, and his son and terrific daughter in law now run the winery. They will be selling their own wine beginning in May 2012, and today they offer a nice Seyval Blanc they've made, as well as other worldwide wines. Terrific owners with a great vision for the winery. Expect good dry wines from them in the future months and years. It's good to have another winery in Stover and in the lake area.

Serenity Valley Winery (written Apr 15, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Perfection at Dusk pinot noir

Located 15 miles from where I live, it's nice to have another winery to visit close by. Serenity Valley opened in December after operating a similar winery in O'Fallon Missouri for several years. Super nice owners, very earnest, they offer wine made from grapes grown throughout the world, and even locally made Artesian Springs Norton and Chambourcin (made by a really nice guy in the Ozarks who doesn't operate his own winery). Gracious hosts at Serenity Valley invite large groups to blend their own wine and even make personal labels for their blend. While I prefer Missouri wineries making wine made from Missouri-grown grapes, the amicable folks here made it worth the drive.

Bushwhacker Bend Winery (written Mar 17, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 09 Chambourcin

Located in a charming old Missouri River town, Bushwhacker Bend is a welcome addition to a sweet little downtown setting. This is a newer winery, occupying a beautifully restored early 1900s or late 1800s building which the owners have painstakingly restored. Very nice bar, and a good assortment of dry wines. Across the street from the winery is a nice fine dining restaurant. Glasgow is a great destination town for terrific wines, friendly hosts, a good meal, and a cute little bakery down the street for pastries and cookies. I bought a few bottles of the Norton and Chambourcin to age a couple of years, and I expect very good things from Bushwhacker Bend. Excellent outdoor patio, to boot.

Westphalia Vineyards (written Feb 04, 2012)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 06 Norton

I finally left work early enough to get to the Westphalia Inn on a Friday afternoon. I've purchased lots of their wine in years past but this was my first visit to the Osage County restaurant that hosts a varied menu to include all the church supper favorites like pot roast and fried chicken (which I hear is very good...). Terry is a gracious host and very knowledgeable about his wines and grapes. The 06 Norton is no longer available in stores because of the sediment, but it's an incredible wine--supple, full bodied, amply oaked. The 08 Norton is fantastic, and they've recently released their 09 Norton (in my cellar). Westphalia Inn is open on weekends; check their website for hours. Definitely worth a visit to this German Catholic hamlet for the great wine, great conversation.

Casa de Loco Winery (written Feb 04, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Cabernet-Zinfandel blend

Situated on a dry sandstone cliff above the beautiful Niangua River, this winery is home to wines made in California and a nice wine shop inside. Located on the grounds of a historic fishing lodge and later mental hospital, Casa de Loco has done a remarkable job with reinventing this beautiful property. They don't produce a Norton, but their California wines are pretty nice for California. Excellent staff, and they make wood fired pizza in the restaurant. They cater to wedding parties and big groups, but one on one they're extremely friendly and welcoming. Excellent view of the river and seating in a sandstone shelter, one of only a few in Gunter sandstone in the county.

Mount Pleasant Winery - Branson (written Jan 06, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

My first visit to Mt. Pleasant Augusta was met with a whole mess of sweet wines with silly labels that I was clearly not interested in buying or even tasting. As part of the Missouri Passport Program, we stopped into the Branson outpost where the barista told us that they no longer sell sweet wine in Augusta, but it's the bread and butter in Branson. Surrounded by visitors wanting to taste "sweet wines only", I felt a little like an outsider asking only for a taste of the Norton and the Claret. The Claret is nice, simple,nothing great. I appreciated the barista so much that I picked up a Norton Reserve even though it was thin --maybe it will age well?

Stone Hill Winery - Branson (written Jan 06, 2012)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 08 Norton

Working towards my Level 5 in the Missouri Wine Passport program, I stopped in at Stone Hill Branson, located centrally on the main strip across the road from Mt. Pleasant Branson. I appreciate that they sell older vintages of Stone Hill Norton, among the best in the state. The winery is a little odd--small tasting rooms with faux stonework, lonely tasting bars and no chairs. I entered through the Motor coach entrance, which surely indicates they get a lot of big tour bus business, and clearly they know how to handle such crowds. Check in during the end of the year for case discounts, even on the Cross J--among their best offerings. I'm not crazy about the commercial nature of the Hermann Stone Hill, and even less fond of the Branson outpost. They carry wine and wine related tchotchkes. They sell wine, which is what I needed to buy on my way home.

Lindwedel Wine Garden (written Jan 06, 2012)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Nestled among the open woodlands of the Branson area is Linwedel Wine Garden--just as the directions read, this winery is located in back of a concrete statuary operation that looks like it's out of business. A gracious host will greet you even on the quietest days of late December. He pours from fresh bottles of Linwedel wines, dry and sweet both, as well as Branson Ridge's wines. The Lindwedel Norton was a little thin, and young (09), but considering how nice the bartender was I bought a bottle to age for a while. Branson Ridge is no longer open, but you can buy their wines for a steal at Lindwedel. Nice winery, gracious folks, with young wines that may turn into something great.

Terre Beau Vineyards (written Nov 27, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 07 Norton

In my tour of Lafayette County wineries, Terre Beau was my favorite stop. John, the winemaker, was an engaging host who treated us all like close friends who were joining him at his home for a meal. If you like Norton, try his--his 07 Norton is lighter bodied than most others in Missouri, and made with stems and skins, giving the wine a very distinctive character. He blends Norton with all kinds of grapes including Cabernet, Chambourcin, and even Concord to make supple, rich wines that pair well with food or stand alone as a sipping wine. John is passionate about his craft, engaging all of us with his trials and tribulations, his successes, his own preference for his cellared wines (which include an 05 Norton that he won't sell because he plans to drink it). Unlike a lot of other winemakers in the area, John actually drinks wine, not beer. This part of Missouri harbors a different feel of wineries where wine is a part of hunting culture where it shares the table with beer. Not so at Terre Beau. John's Italian heritage shines through with every expression, from describing his grandparents picking up crates of grapes from the trucks from California, to his love of big, bold wine that he drinks in Kansas City steakhouses. Nice environment, the building is an old church that John has maintained quite well. A great way to spend a rainy afternoon in November. His 07 and 08 Nortons and Chambourcins are drinkable now.

Fahrmeier Family Vineyards (written Nov 27, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton

On a tour of the Lafayette County wineries today, I was delighted to add Fahrmeier Family Vineyards to my list of places that make a nice Norton. I really appreciated how the winery seems to be a local gathering place--beer drinkers, wine drinkers, travelers from far away, locals from up the road. The family is very earnest in their efforts to make very serious wine, as well as lighter, sweeter wines that are favored by many in the state. I bought a bottle of Norton to set aside for a little while, had a glass of Norton with their terrific Mediterranean dips served a la carte, and joined fellow wine travelers from Kansas City for a nice afternoon. The old 1930s barn is very cozy, and relaxing. Hooray for Lafayette Co for such a welcoming space!

Peaceful Bend Vineyard (written Nov 05, 2011)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 08 Norton

I went back to Peaceful Bend after a few years have passed, and glad I did. Mark my words, there's no better way to spend an afternoon than in a comfortable woodstove-heated room drinking wine with a fantastic Missouri winemaker. Clyde Gill makes the list of my top ten favorite people in Missouri, and for good reason. He's making terrific wines, and has been infatuated with Missouri wine culture for over 30 years. He's passionate about his work, and his offerings are among some of my favorites in the Ozarks. Try the Meramec, a nice blend of Norton, Chambourcin and possibly other grapes. I bought a bottle to put away for a couple of years, though plowed through the 08 Norton. Great place, earnest folks, and well worth the trip away from St. James.

Heinrichshaus Vineyard and Winery (written Nov 05, 2011)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2006 Cynthiana

I second the Norton Wine Travelers. Heinrichshaus also makes a fantastic, bold Chambourcin. In fact, the owner was declared the King of Chambourcin by one of his regular patrons; he has the certificate to prove it. If you go during cold weather, he'll stock the wood burning stove for you. Heinrichshaus Winery has been around for 35 years and continues to thrive with a large customer base--he ships wine, but doesn't sell it in stores. Stop by the St. James Visitor Center at the I-44 exit for a map--and drive slowly because the sign is a tiny little white board on a mailbox. Great wines, he doesn't waste his time with sweet wines. He's serving his 07 Cynthiana, a steal at 14.50. Also, the Public House in Rolla sells his Prairie Rouge by the glass.

Robller Vineyard Winery (written Nov 05, 2011)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Le Trompier Noir

I've been encouraged for years to visit this winery located outside of New Haven, and I'm glad I went on my birthday. Robller is an incredible place, with a knowledgeable and friendly staff, terrific wine, great vibe. Jerry, the winemaker's son, not only loves wine, but drinks wine, appreciates wine, collects wine, and is passionate about wine. It shows. His enthusiasm for all of his offerings even resulted in my tasting whites (which I seldom do, barring a Traminette). He's very proud of the great wine they make, and rightfully so. They're sold out of Norton, but the taste he offered of the 2010 vintage was incredibly supple, rich, and elegant. Great wines for aging, with the potential to put away for 10-20 years, but also good for drinking now.

Firesteed Cellars (written Sep 22, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 09 Pinot Noir

This is a large producer of pinot noir, but the atmosphere and congeniality of the manager is super friendly. They make terrific, bold pinot noir and a nice Cabernet (from Walla Walla grapes) that is bright with a buttery finish. Sold out of the 08 vintage, so I picked up some 09s to put away for a few years. The staff here are passionate about winemaking and about growing their acres and acres of grapes in the world's best pinot noir region.

OakGlenn Vineyards and Winery (written Sep 22, 2011)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

They were sold out of the Norton which comes well reviewed, and the Chambourcin resembled a cherry flavored cough syrup. I recall on previous visits buying a glass of a Norton and liking it very much, but the atmosphere that caters to partiers is just that, a party atmosphere (complete with a cheap beer and hard liquor menu). I think people go there to get trashed, but good for them for making a good Norton. Nice folks at the tasting bar who must deal with a wide variety of visitors.

Ankeny Vineyard Winery (written Sep 22, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Pinot noir

What a friendly winery located on the upslope of the Willamette River bottoms. The owner and his partner are very relaxed, and very passionate about the wine they make. The 05 pinot noir was mellowed perfectly. I appreciated the time the staff took to tell us about their growing conditions, and the tasting from a vat of a simple table wine. A very sweet little winery, what I love about Oregon wine country.

Montserrat Vineyards (written Sep 11, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton

Located just off of Hwy 50, this little winery has a commanding view of the surrounding hillsides. Staff were busy preparing for a wedding, a birthday party, and operating their winery but they continued to take care of everyone. The Norton at the tasting bar had been opened for three weeks and had a brown hue to it. Unfortunately, I'm almost becoming accustomed to being served turned wine, so I ordered a glass out of a fresh bottle to really taste it. Big and smooth, with nice tannins. I picked up a bottle to drink out of Reidel glasses for an even better experience.

Aramenta Cellars (written Jul 30, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Claret

What a nice little cabin in the woods! Good wine, a great Claret, Tillie. Very earnest owners.

Belle Joli Winery Tasting Room (written Jul 30, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Experimenting with a Vitis riparia and Cabernet blend is a good idea. I drank their wine while in the Black Hills at a campsite and rued that I didn't pick up a bottle to drink in a better glass.

Prairie Berry Winery (written Jul 30, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: Sand Creek

What an operation! A massive enterprise located in the Black Hills, Prairie Berry is known for its Rhubarb wine, an ultrasweet red called Red Ass Rhubard. They also make respectable dry wines out of crosses of Vitis riparia, including Sand Creek (have several bottles in the house aging). It's a mob scene at the tasting bar during the tourist season, and some of the baristas are knowledgeable about what they're pouring. Their wines are widely available in stores throughout the state and in Nebraska.

Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard and Winery (written Jun 11, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 07 Frontenac

Terrific winery, with good dry reds. Enjoy a cheese plate outside in the shade and a glass or two of the Frontenac. They have older vintages and also make sweet wines for those with tastes not coincident with mine. The dry whites are also very capable.

St. James Winery (written Jun 11, 2011)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 08 Norton

The 08 St. James Norton is widely available in stores throughout Missouri, and it remains my most often consumed Norton these days. The winery is located on I-44, and the tasting room is large enough to accomodate even a tour bus. They have done a wonderful job of marketing local wine in Missouri, and while they probably sell more of their sweet wines, their dry reds and whites are terrific and a good bargain. In the fall, they make a blend reminiscent of a Beaujolais, called St. James Nouveau.

Landry Vineyards (written Jun 11, 2011)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2009 Envie Rouge

What a treat to have such a nice winery in North Louisiana! The dry reds, including one made with Norton, Envie Rouge, are supple and full of character. Landry makes a blueberry merlot that tastes like pie but is also quite dry. This is a great place to spend an afternoon, have good wine, look out over the vines. Landry makes sweet wines, as well.

Silver Hills Vineyards and Winery (written Jun 11, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: St. Croix

Very nice winery along the Missouri River bluffs. I was grateful they opened by appointment on my way back to Missouri. I stayed for a while and drank a glass of the St. Croix--especially appreciated that the owner, a super nice man, opened new bottles for us. He apprenticed under Ed Swanson, the father of viticulture in Nebraska at Cuthills Vineyards, and it shows. Nice, supple wines. He also makes sweet wines that are apparently well reviewed. I picked up a couple of bottles of St. Croix and will put one away for a few years.

Moonlight Ridge Vineyard (written Jun 06, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Nice little winery off the main road into the Sand Hills of Nebraska. Private parties love this place--I saw them take down a wedding and get ready for a baby shower in the course of my stay here. Nice crisp dry whites, and only a few dry reds. Lots of sweeter wines.

Miletta Vista Winery (written Jun 06, 2011)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Very nice place just off the highway if you're on the way to the Sand Hills. Beautiful dry reds, and nice Reidel stemware for the tasting and the servings. I like Missouri DeChaunacs and Nebraska has really captured the essence of this grape. Less of the fig and prune overtones, but more of the subtle undertones stand out. Very nice owner, and a cool view of what was once historic prairie, long views of undulating hills that stretch for miles.

Deer Springs Winery (written Jun 06, 2011)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 08 St. Croix

Outstanding winery, a great place to stop on my first tour of Nebraska wineries. I was encouraged to seek this one out for their dry reds, and glad the Norton Wine Travelers steered me here. Their 08 St. Croix is outstanding, aged beautifully with a clean finish, a big bold nose. If this is what St. Croix is supposed to taste like, I love it. Also enjoyed the various blends. Great dry reds. I hope they try making a Norton again in the near future!

Albonée Country Inn and Winery (written Jun 06, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton

I really appreciated how, at 11 am, four cars including mine pulled into this winery to be there when they opened. The owners of this charming little house winery managed the crowd just fine, as most of us only wanted the dry wines--a big change from Missouri clientele only a few years ago. Nice Norton, more of the texture of a pinot noir, light, but big on the American oak. Clean and crisp whites.

Jowler Creek Winery (written Jun 06, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Neat place, very easy to find. I really appreciated the label art, the design of the building, the friendly owners. I picked up a Norton/Concord blend for a friend who prefers sweeter wines. Their Chambourcin is ready to drink now.

Twin Oaks Vineyard (written May 02, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Well, I haven't actually been to the winery since I'm always in a work vehicle when I go to this part of the state, but the Pasta House or something in Farmington carries their Norton-Chambourcin blend and it's really quite nice. I can't wait to go in my own car so I can stop and meet these folks. Good wine. Worth the visit.

Cave Vineyard (written Feb 20, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Young dry reds, but amply oaked. The Chambourcin lacked a real finish, but was drinkable now. The Norton had a grapefruit overtone, and the oaking gave it the tannins, but no vanilla. Age might take some of the sharpness off the Norton. The Traminette was light and fruity, reminiscent of Fruit Loops cereal. I liked it, as I tend to like Traminettes. Crisp wine. I appreciated the Louis Prima-Keely Smith played in the cave while we drank a bottle of the Chambourcin.

Sainte Genevieve Winery (written Feb 20, 2011)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Dry wines only, please. I liked the Bolduc, a Norton blend, which I bought to sock away for a few years to see what will happen to it. Young wines, lots of sweet wine made from local fruits, and a suite of whites including a stable Traminette. Very friendly staff, ample parking on the street, a cozy atmosphere.

Les Bourgeois Vineyards (written Jan 02, 2011)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Rumor around the state says that Les Bourgeois has one of the best winemakers in the state on their staff. Of course, their big seller is a cheap sweet red that all the MU kids drink and that they sell out to other wineries under various river-related names. Not sure why, unless they're sold out of older vintages, but they're serving an 08 or 09 Norton which is just criminal. Way too young to be even considered for drinking. Good food at the restaurant, where I've ordered their 08 Syrah. It is recommended that they invest in better stemware for their wines to be served in the lovely restaurant. Thick rims should be used for coffee, not oaked wines. It's a bike ride from my house, so I'll be back for the food. Hopefully they're socking away some of their Nortons for a few years.

OOVVDA Winery (written Jan 02, 2011)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Oh, what a fun place. Hesitant to drink wine that tastes simply like fruit, I didn't stop here on earlier trips to southwest Missouri. After drinking a lovely dry granny smith dry wine, and hearing that Oovda makes dry wines out of regular fruit, I had to stop in. Glad we did! My fellow traveler fell in love with the raspberry wine, and I liked the blueberry. Lovely hosts, with a wonderful Australian shepherd who loves to be skritched behind his ears. I'll be back here for their elegant dessert wines, and their Nortons which need to be socked away for a couple of years. It's so popular that they don't have enough aged! Nice place, and good wine.

Meramec Vineyards (written Oct 03, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 05 Norton

Hmmmm... not sure what to say. I went back here wanting a snack, wine, and outdoor seating, and ended up with two bottles of the 05 Norton that were really great. Good host, the winemaker herself who can tell you about the grapes, the vintages, the crush, the fermentation process. I don't suspect they get too much traffic, since I showed up at 4:30 and the girl behind the counter told me they were closed. The 05 is really nice, especially in a Norton glass.

Eichenberg Winery (written Jun 28, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

They were serving really old wine at the tasting bar, but I could tell that the wines have potential.I picked up a bottle made with Chambourcin grapes. The Baco Noir tastes a little like a grapefruit juice--very fruity and tart. Darling winery nestled in Cole Camp, a town with most of its downtown on the historic register.

Montelle Winery (written May 03, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 06 Cynthiana

The 06 cynthiana is outstanding, one of the best in the state, but they're only selling the 09, which isn't ready to drink yet. Age it for four years and it should be perfect.

Sugar Creek Winery and Vineyards (written May 03, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Very committed barista at the tasting bar. The Norton is strong, and Michael's Red (Norton, Chambourcin +1 blend) is a little too sweet. It seemed to be a sweet little place in the woods.

Chaumette Vineyards and Winery (written May 03, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 07 Norton

Outstanding food, though we had to wait a while for our lunches. The French influence inside with the Provencal touches and grapevine tree are classy. The pourers are dedicated and extremely knowledgeable. The 07 Norton is ready to drink now, but should only get better with aging. The Traminette is crisp, much like a Granny Smith. The Chambourcin has the feel of a bright pinot noir. Excellent food, good wine, an all around nice place.

Charleville Vineyards (written May 03, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 07 Chambourcin

Very nice rustic little cabin in the woods with a commanding view of several wooded ridges. The Norton needs aging, but the Chambourcin is really quite nice, full, thick with cherry overtones. They also serve microbrewed beer that are very well made.

Seven Springs Winery (written Apr 10, 2010)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Pinot Noir and 07 Norton

What a lovely place, nestled in the dissected hills of Niangua Basin country, one of the most flammable parts of Missouri. I visited Seven Springs a couple of years ago in the middle of the week during the dead of winter (Thursday afternoon in late January). And they were open! And serving fresh bottles of great wine and food! The winery itself has young vines, so many of the grapes they use are from other parts of Missouri and maybe California (the pinot grapes?)? Not sure. Nevertheless, big, oaky, clean Norton, bright Chambourcin, and the pinot noir is, hands down, the best pinot noir made in Missouri. Big thumbs up on elegant food, great wine, nice view of the rolling hills. I recommend they burn their woods periodically. Beautiful country.

Bias Vineyards and Winery (written Mar 21, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2006 DeChaunac

The DeChaunac (overtones of fig and soil) was really quite interesting. Their wines are young, and may improve with age. I appreciated the barista who was very knowledgeable, friendly, and nice, full of spirit. The Norton and Chambourcin were thin. Very affordable wine, and I suspect their sweet wines are attractive to those who like sweet wines...but I never try them. Good job on the DeChaunac--a nice burgundy hue, with fragrance and a curious hint of fruit.

Adam Puchta Winery (written Mar 21, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

A very charming little building on the grounds of a very old vineyard. The dry red wines were mediocre, and the barista really didn't feel like engaging much with us. They offer sweet wine that is likely popular, but I never try those so I can't review them. I respect the winery, but the wines were thin and medium bodied and the bottles had been opened for too long.

Meramec Vineyards (written Mar 21, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2004 Norton

Their Nortons didn't taste like Nortons, but the 2004 Norton reminded me of a Salice Salentino--floral nose, faint hint of oak. They make a lot of sweet junk that I won't touch, and a Chambourcin that is a little too heavy on the ripe berry--I think it's aged in steel? The tasting bar was hosted by a young kid who probably doesn't "drink wine" and was therefore unable to tell us much about the three dry reds we tasted. They have a cute little restaurant and an outdoor patio that likely sees a lot of traffic during the growing season. If you're not a big fan of Norton, try Meramec's. The 04 is interesting.

Hermannhof Winery (written Mar 08, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 04 Norton

Maybe the owners of Hermannhof read the above comments and amended their tasting room. The half-California wine, half-Missouri wine tasting room was odd. I stuck with the Missouri wines. The Norton was actually quite nice, which makes me suspect that maybe the Norton Wine Travelers hit it on a bad day when the wine was old and dead? I liked the Norton aged in French oak...very different from the green white oak barrels most Missouri wineries use. The Chambourcin was elegant.

Blumenhof Vineyards and Winery (written Mar 07, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Very nice winery atmosphere, reminiscent of Willamette Valley's smaller wineries. Maybe the Cynthiana at the tasting bar was past its prime? It was flat, with no real hint of oak. I trust the Norton Wine Travelers in their estimation of the Cynthiana, assumed that the bottle was dead at the tasting bar, so picked up a 2008 Original Cyn. I'll put it away for a while...

Balducci Vineyards (written Mar 07, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Maybe they opened the Norton they served at the tasting bar sometime in 2009. Maybe the people surrounding us who asked for "sweet white wine only" were more common than those of us looking for "dry reds only." Nevertheless, I wanted to try a fresh bottle, and this was the only restaurant/winery that served a meal. The pizzas are nice, and the Norton was okay. The Aria -a dry red blend of Chambourcin and St. Vincent- was really tart, but again, the bottle may have been opened for way too long. I was hoping for Italian blends, but they don't offer any in dry reds.

Mount Pleasant Winery (written Mar 07, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon

Mt. Pleasant's big commercial enterprise nestled in the hills of the Missouri River Valley doesn't really portray the character of the area. We had to ask to have our glasses rinsed between the Brut and Norton tastings. The Norton was nothing very special, but the Cabernet Sauvignon was really nice. The tasting fee will cover five tastes, so if you only want the dry reds, you can have two big pours of the Cab, which I strongly recommend. My friend bought a semi-dry white that smelled like canned chicken.

Augusta Winery (written Mar 07, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2006 Chambourcin

Nice Norton, Chambourcin, and Reserve Red blend of Chambourcin, Norton and St. Vincent. The 05 Norton was spectacular, and the 07, which they're serving now, is nice, but not as great as the 05. Very knowledgeable staff and cozy tasting room. With a small fee, you can have a special Norton tasting which will allow you to take a Reidel Norton glass home. This was the best Norton of the Augusta wineries.

Cristom Vineyards (written Feb 28, 2010)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: 2007 Eileen Pinot Noir

Wow. Each vineyard produces such distinctive wines, it's hard to choose a favorite. These folks take wine very seriously, and it shows in their winery, their tastings, their bottling, their extensive maps of the Eola-Amity Hills and soil series posted in the tasting room. It's hard to choose a favorite between the Jessie, Mt. Jefferson and Eileen, since each vineyard produces such outstanding wine. If only we had a place like Christom in Missouri.

David Hill Winery (written Feb 28, 2010)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2007 Pinot Noir

Lovely winery located in a historic clapboard home. David Hill is one of the original pinot producers in the Willamette Valley and their experience shows--beautiful, bold, buttery pinot noir. Knowledgeable staff, a classy place with outstanding wine. The white tablecloth of wineries.

Peaceful Bend Vineyard (written Feb 28, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 4 stars

Favorite Wine: Fourche Renault

Located in the beautiful Central Plateau region of the Ozark Highlands, Peaceful Bend's grounds and log cabin represent the region. Several of their wines are named after local waterways, creeks, streams. The Fourche Renault is an elegant dry red with a brambly start. Their Norton wasn't as bold as others found in the St. James region, but it may be young. A very nice little winery with snacks, good dogs, and a great little porch designed for whiling away the afternoon over a bottle of their fresh dry wines.

Pheasant Hollow Winery (written Feb 28, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 4 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: Norton

Another nice Illinois winery located right off the highway. I laud these wineries who must know that I travel their roads frequently and am always looking for wineries to try. Maybe 5 miles off the highway down a short gravel road in a little wooded tract, Pheasant Hollow has a darling log cabin with a fireplace, a long tasting bar. Their Norton isn't as bold as most Missouri Nortons, but distinctive. Big oak, nice buttery finish, I picked up a bottle and enjoyed it last week. I only try the dry reds, so no opinion of the sweet stuff they offer...

Archery Summit (written Feb 15, 2010)
Wine: 3 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 2 stars

Boy, if you're looking for evidence that California has moved to rural Oregon, check out Archery Summit. Willamette Valley pinot noir is my holy grail wine, and when I visit the beach cabin, I try to visit as many wineries as I can. This one is really not in the spirit of a Willamette Valley winery. Having seen this area only a few years ago, I never would have imagined that a pretentious place like this would sprout up among the fruit orchards and rows of hops. This is a very expensive winery with a decent pinot noir, young. Maybe it ages well? Too much like a brambly California pinot noir to really deserve the appellation.

Keels Creek Winery (written Feb 15, 2010)
Wine: 4 stars Winery: 3 stars Ambiance: 3 stars

Favorite Wine: 2006 Cynthiana

Nice hearty reds, a good Cynthiana. Keel's Creek is a good compliment to Eureka Springs. This is a cozy building with an art gallery in the front rooms, tasting room in the back. They have a few other Arkansas wines for sale, though mostly sweet stuff that I don't drink. Being a recent transplant to Missouri, I guess I resented the Cynthiana versus Norton argument the woman behind the tasting bar offered to me. It reminded me of being at Kansas during the Mizzou-KU game...Arkansas wines are closer to "the real Norton grape, which doesn't exist" and nonsense like that. Good wine, nevertheless.

Montinore Vineyards (written Feb 14, 2010)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2007 Parsons Ridge Pinot Noir

My gold standard of Oregon pinot noir. This organic vineyard is located in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Distinct soil layers including Missoula Flood silt help to provide the different vineyards at Montinore with varying overtones, but all fantastic pinot noir. Savory, with hickory overtones and a superb buttery finish. All aged in French oak. Very knowledgeable staff and nice room with a great view.

River Ridge Winery (written Feb 14, 2010)
Wine: 5 stars Winery: 5 stars Ambiance: 5 stars

Favorite Wine: 2007 Chambourcin

Located on the loess-capped ridgetops of Crowley's Ridge, River Ridge Winery produces some of Missouri's most distinctive wines. The owner is a UC-Davis graduate. In recent years, he has begun to explore growing California varietal grapes on his ancient glacial soils. His Norton, Cynthiana, and Chambourcin are big, bold and complex wines. A popular dry red blend, Joie de Riviere, includes Cabernet Franc and offers a bright cherry yet savory finish. River Ridge ages in Missouri white oak, French oak and steel. Classy winery with outstanding food, a great place nestled in the woods, and their wine ages beautifully, but is mellow enough to drink today. Top picks for Nortons, Cynthiana, and Chambourcin. Brilliant, oaky whites available, too.

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