Missouri offered the promises of fertile soil and plentiful game. Abundant timber and waterways, cheap land, low taxes, and political freedom also sweetened the pot. German immigration boomed in the 1830's after Godfried Duden returned to Germany, after establishing a farm near present day Dutzow and traveling Missouri, and published a report extolling settling in Missouri.
Luckily for us, some of these "followers of Duden", carried carefully-wrapped clippings from their old world vineyards.
Missouri has seven distinct wine producing regions. The Augusta, Hermann, Ozark Highlands, and Ozark Mountains regions are official American Viticultural Areas are just a few of them. The Lake of the Ozarks is most closely associated as a part of the Ozark Highlands region and also includes the Central Wine region.
One of my favorite winery road trip rolls through these areas. This trip will take you through historic Linn Creek (Seven Springs Winery), Camden County's seat of Camdenton (Casa De Loco Winery), the quaint town of Stover (Grey Bear Vineyard's & Winery), and the location of one of the first battles of the Civil War, Cole Camp (Eichenberg Winery).
Seven Springs Winery website states "Come for the wine, Stay for the atmosphere, Remember the view!". The wine tasting at Seven Springs will set you back $7, but includes a souvenir wine glass. The winery is home to nine different wines, Sangria Rojo, Concord Grape Juice, and Boulevard Beer for those who prefer grain over grapes. Menu options include selections of appetizers, lite fare, paninis, hand rolls, salads, and specialty soups and the suggested pairings make it easy to choose a wine by the glass or the bottle.
Casa De Loco Winery offers scenic views of the Big Niangua river from a property that has a colorful past. Originally a private fishing resort for wealthy St. Louisian's the property took a spin as a health care facility for the elderly and the mentally ill during the 1970's. Hence the name, meaning "house of the crazy".
In addition to wine tastings, Casa De Loco also plays host to Murder Mystery Dinner Theater every other Wednesday night through November.
Buffalo Creek Winery is a family-owned and operated winery producing hand-crafted quality wine, made in small batches. They have a couple of beautiful decks to take in the fall scenery on and aenjoy the wines.
Eichenberg Winery started as a grandfather's way to recreate a portion of his childhood for his grandchildren. Rodger Leutjen recalled playing with his cousins in the tunnels and mazes of the grape wines. The winery building itself was built in the early 1900's as a blacksmith shop and has been nominated for the National Historic Register. Eichenberg offers ten wine varieties.
Don't forget to purchase a bottle of your favorites to bring back home to enjoy!