There was a great story in Feast magazine this past week about the History of Missouri wine:
“If there are people with prejudices against Missouri wine, I would encourage them to give it another try. Local products pair so perfectly with local grapes from farm to table to glass,” says Danene Beedle, marketing director for the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, a wine-industry stakeholders association responsible for researching, developing and promoting Missouri grapes, juices and wines. The Board is funded by tax on all wine sold in Missouri. Beedle gives the examples of pairing Missouri-raised grass-fed beef or lamb with Norton, locally sourced trout with Chardonel, and anything grilled with Chambourcin.
“Once local wine drinkers understand the history of Missouri wine, they will appreciate the product so much more,” says Beedle. “Missouri soil is prime for growing grapes. They may not be the [grape] names that you know, but we would not have designated viticultural areas if we did not have good grapes.”
The article did a great job of researching the Missouri wine history. The only error I found was they said St. James is “one of the largest” and really they are by far “the largest” in Missouri with production of over 200,000 gallons. In fact, St. James is one of the largest in the entire Midwest. The only winery that is larger is Oliver Winery in Indiana which produces over 1 million gallons (holy smokes!).
I liked the historical details they included, like this excerpt:
According to several local historians, today’s Missouri winery owners are the sons and daughters of one man: Gottfried Duden. In their homeland, Germans were facing overcrowding, a struggling economy and tyrannical leadership. Duden, a German lawyer and writer who eventually settled in Dutzow, Mo., traveled to Missouri in the 1820s. He became enamored with the scenery and the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. In his Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America, his propaganda-like tome published in 1829 in Germany and widely distributed through Europe, he expounded on the fertile virtues of the countryside, how it reminded him of his native home near the Rhine River and how it would be the perfect place for scores of German families.
If you want to know more about the history of wine in the Midwest, I recommend reading The Wild Vine, which traces American’s native grape, Norton, to its origins. Go here, for our review of The Wild Vine.
The bigger question I think this articles leads us to is how do we get wine drinkers excited about local Midwest wine? The Midwest is popping up with craft brewers like crazy and I think local wine is right behind it. Maybe more events partnering together with the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and the St. Louis Brewers Guild? Or just more culinary & local wine events?