1. Missouri has an official state grape (and it’s a pretty awesome).
The Norton grape was named the official state grape of Missouri in 2003. Norton is a Native American grape, and believed to be one of the oldest varieties still commercially grown. Norton is known for making big, bold, dry red wine and is completely unlike any other varietal.
2. Missouri makes A LOT of wine.
Missouri wineries produce more than 900,000 gallons of wine every year. If you lined all those wine bottles up next to each other it would almost span the width of the state.
3. Missouri is home to the 1st ever AVA. (Yes, before Napa. Cool, right?)
AVA stands for American Viticulture Area, a designated wine grape-growing region, defined by the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB). In 1980, the TTB named Augusta the 1st AVA. The bureau cited the unique soil, climate and wines, as well as Augusta’s long history as one of America’s oldest and foremost grape and wine districts.
4. No matter where you are in the state, you’re only a short drive from the nearest winery.
Wine country is closer than you think. Missouri boasts more than 125 wineries across the state. Some areas have larger concentrations of wineries such as the Hermann, Augusta, Ste. Genevieve and Kansas City areas.
5. Missouri is credited with saving the French wine industry in the 1870s.
Missouri entomologist, C.V. Riley, discovered American rootstock was resistant to a vineyard pest, Phylloxera, which was wreaking havoc on French vineyards. The resistant rootstock was sent overseas and grafted to French vines, helping to rebuild their industry.
There are currently 9 wine trails in the state. They are all a little different and offer a unique experience, but there are 9 wine-centered trips already planned and ready to enjoy.
7. Missouri wine regularly wins top awards at national and international competitions.
We’ll toot our own horn. Year after year, Missouri wineries bring home gold, double gold, best in class and other high-ranking awards from competitions around the world.
8. The grapes you’ve heard the most about just can’t handle Missouri (for the most part).
It’s because we’re just too cool for them, both literally and figuratively. Missouri’s weather can be a little demanding and the grapes you’re used to hearing about (Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay) can’t handle the cold temps during the winter and the hot summers. So, we grow Native American and French-American hybrid grapes. Some delicious varieties popular in Missouri vineyards: Norton (of course), Vignoles, Chambourcin, Chardonel, and Vidal Blanc (to name a few).
*Disclaimer: This is a generalization of the vineyards in Missouri. Some vintners are growing more commonly known grapes (AKA Vinifera), but it’s not the norm.
9. Prohibition was a big bummer for Missouri wines.
Before prohibition Missouri was 2nd in the country in wine production, just behind New York. While prohibition put the brakes on Missouri wine for a while, a renaissance is taking place. If you’ve blinked in the past 20 years, you’ve probably missed something.
10. Planning a trip to Missouri wine country is as easy as 123.
- Go to missouriwine.org
- Plan a trip using the Winery Explorer
- Enjoy your Missouri wine adventure!
Written by Christa Holtzclaw from the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.