June 10, 2018

Missouri Wine—Who Knew-Joyce Ann Brown!

What does the state of Missouri bring to mind for you? The Gateway Arch in St. Louis? Kansas City Jazz and bar-be-que? Branson country music?  The Ozark Hills? M.U. football for you sports fans. The state is also recognized for the Louis and Clark river journey, Samuel Clemens writing as Mark Twain, and Harry Truman helping to end WWII. There’s a lot of terrain diversity in the state, too, from rolling farmland in the north to mountains in the south and lowland Mississippi flood plain in the Bootheel.

You might be surprised to know Missouri is also prominent as a wine state, with a long history of viticulture. German immigrants settled along the Missouri River and found ideal conditions for growing grapes, long, hot summers, good sun exposure, and the rocky Ozarks soil. The moderate average temperature in the area allowed for natural cellaring. The immigrants developed local varieties that had been grown by Native Americans. Later, winemakers from Italy found the state favorable for wine grapes, also. In the 1800’s, the wine corridor along the Missouri river valley became known as the Missouri “Rhineland”.

Hermann, Missouri was settled by Germans in 1837, and by 1848 winemakers were producing 10,000 gallons of wine per year expanding to 100,000 gals by 1856. In the 1880’s, the state was the largest producer of wine in the nation. Stone Hill Winery in Hermann became the second largest winery in the U.S. and the third largest in the world, its wines winning awards at world fairs in Vienna and Philadelphia. Missouri grape vine root stock, resistant to the pest that was destroying the French vineyards in the mid-19th century, helped save the French wine industry. Before Prohibition, Missouri was the second-largest wine producing state…but the shutdown of the wineries destroyed its wine industry for decades. 

Since the 1960’s there’s been a revival of vineyards and wineries in the state. I, for one, have enjoyed the resurgence. For years, Hermann has been one of my husband and my destinations for fun, food, and fine wine tasting. There’s a train from the Kansas City area that we can take to the town. We’ve camped in our fifth-wheel in the area and visited the wineries on the Hermann Wine Trail and the Missouri Weinstrasse, in Augusta wine area, (also called the Meramec River Wine Trail) which was designated as the “First United States Wine District” in 1980, since wines were produced there prior to the Civil War. 
 Those aren’t the only wineries we visit in Missouri. There are at least 130 wineries and ten or eleven recognized wine trails in the state, and one of them is the Kansas City Wine Trail, convenient for us. Also, just north of Kansas City is the Northwest Wine Trail that winds through charming Missouri towns near the Missouri River. Others are Route du Vin in the Southeast corner of the state where the French settled, the Ozark Mountain Wine Trail that winds through picturesque terrain in southwest Missouri, the Aux Arcs Wine Road that takes its name from the original French name given to the region now known as the Ozarks. There’s a Missouri River Wine Trail and a Mississippi River Hills Wine Trail. I can’t leave out the Lake of the Ozarks Wine Trail, right in the heart of the Missouri playground, perfect for people visiting Branson or the lake. Some folks recognize the Winestein Trail north of the Northwest trail. Go to http://blog.visitmo.com/10-wine-trails-missouri-adventure/ to learn about the wine trails. More than 130 wineries are included, and they use grapes from the many vineyards in the state. 

My favorite wines are dry reds and whites, and my favorite Missouri red variety is Cynthiana/Norton. Nortons have won wine awards for years. In fact, there’s a 170-year-old Norton/Cynthiana grapevine in the OakGlenn Winery’s vineyard in Hermann. Chardonel is my favorite white. It’s a cross of the traditional chardonnay grape and Seyval. Dry Vignoles has won awards for dry white, also. All the wineries I’ve visited have sweet wines and fruit wines, also, which have won awards. So if you are a fan of sweet, Missouri wines will fill the bill.

I write the cozy mystery series, Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries. In the books, Beth, the landlady, and her husband often relax on the patio or balcony with a glass of white wine. Good thing the tales take place in a Kansas City neighborhood with all these great wineries close by. Maybe it’s that relaxation and enjoyment that helps Beth with her sleuthing abilities. Sylvester, aka Psycho Cat, doesn’t drink wine, but he appreciates relaxation—his cat naps prepare him for sniffing out clues.

I’d love to read your comments on this post. One commenter will win an e-book copy of one of the four books in the Psycho Cat series, Catastrophic Connections, Furtive Investigation, Nine Lifelines, or Tailed  

Author's Bio: Joyce Ann Brown was a librarian, a landlady, and a Realtor before becoming a short story, blog, and novel writer. Author of the Psycho Cat and the Landlady cozy mystery series, Ms. Brown spends her days writing (with a few breaks for tennis, walking, and book clubs) so Beth, the landlady in the series, and Sylvester, aka Psycho Cat, can solve who-done-its connected with rental properties and condos in the quaint Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City. Ms. Brown lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two mischievous cats. They travel the country in an RV to visit family and gather snippets for her stories. When not working on a new book for the series, the author creates award-winning short stories for magazines and anthologies.
(Info provided/released by author)


  1. Your books look like a fun read. I have family in Missouri near KC. Almost moved there. You told me something I didn't know about the history of the settlers and the wine-making. Thanks for 'showing me' your state.

  2. As a person who gets an allergic reaction to wines, I found this information interesting. It's historical and cultural. It's great to know how one's area was established. Missouri must have some fertile ground.

  3. AnonymousJune 10, 2018

    Joyce, I had no idea! I'll share this with my 50 Shades of Cabernet group.

  4. I wasn't aware of Missouri's prominence as a wine state, nor its role in saving the French industry. Interesting stuff. Best wishes for luck with your writing.

  5. Thanks so much, Joyce for sharing about your state of Missouri. Though, I've been there a few times, I had no idea about the wine country. Just goes to show one never stops learning. I love the sound of your books. Great idea! Keep writing! sjfrancis419@gmail.com

  6. Thanks for the comments. Glad you found the history interesting. I saw your promo on Facebook, Maggie.

  7. I've spent a lot of time in Missouri the last several years, as my wife lived in the Sikeston area--but I had no idea about its wine history. Fun to learn!


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