Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Top 10 of 2013

What a crazy year we ended up with!  We made it to our goal of 100 wineries in 1 year and what a sigh of relief when we finished.  It was the experience of a lifetime to visit the wineries we did, try the wine that we sipped, and speak with the people we spoke with.

Here is the list of our Top 10 wineries that we visited in 2013.

Bommarito Estate Almond Tree Winery

We weren't sure what to expect when we pulled into the small parking lot hugged by vines, but Bommarito Winery surprised us with its cozy warmth, friendly service, and tasty Norton.  Cathy Bommarito-Manley has done an amazing job with creating wines that please all palates and helped capture our first 'ahhh' moment with her Norton. This boutique winery may be small, but its wines left a big impact.

Apple Creek Winery

One of the more recent wineries to open in the state, Apple Creek Winery has shown that it can compete with the best and most mature wineries around.  Pulling up to the winery you find yourself surrounded by the vines, further back, the tasting room is nestled next to a creek, surrounded by trees.  Though the day we visited was slightly chilly, the fire place was going on inside and the live music was still playing.  Matthew Gamel gave us the rundown of the wines offered and how the place came to be.  Needless to say this will be a regular stop for us from now on, especially to indulge on the Seyval Blanc and a slice of their 'famous' pizza.

Bushwacker Bend Winery

The drive North from Booneville is well worth the beauty of the country-side, but knowing their is a winery in Glasgow makes it all the more enjoyable.  Gene Marksbury, wine maker and owner, took us on a tour not just of his wines, but his facility as well.  Parked in a historical building within the heart of downtown Glasgow, Gene took every precaution to keep the historicity of the building intact.  The cellar was an excellent experience and a site to behold, especially when paired with Bushwacker Bend's Chardonel!  After the tour, Davina and I sipped on the rest of it on the patio overlooking the up close and personal, Missouri River.  Take a drive north as soon as possible!

St. James Winery

It is hard to make a list of the best wineries in Missouri without acknowledging the one that is creating a hype across the country for Missouri wine!  St. James has a strong list of delicious wines and produce not only Missouri varieties, but go beyond that to provide a plethora of others made from numerous fruits and other varietals from around the world.  St. James Winery leads the state in its ability to meet consumer demands with its high quality product, while at the same time offering visitors to the winery in depth knowledge of the wine making process, friendliness, and a look into their facility. We do wish they had a setting more conducive to enjoying the wines at the actual facility, but the availability of their wines is such that you can enjoy them pretty much anywhere!

Ladoga Ridge Winery

Tip-toe away from Kansas City, just to the north, and you find a treasure of a winery.  Ladoga Ridge Winery welcomes you with their custom door to the wonderful world of wine that Galen and Leinda Haddock have created.  Experience their quaint tasting room with views of their wine-making facility.  Make your way out the back to the best sunset you'll see in the state, Ladoga Ridge Winery has the oenophile drooling.  Their taste offers some of the best samples of wine that express each varietals' potential. Galen seems to do it so effortlessly, sharing with us that it is "a non-stop battle, BUT with great rewards."  Well, it is paying off for the Haddock's because their winery is one of our favorites.

Augusta Winery

A particular favorite of ours, Augusta Winery is within the range of our own stomping ground and thus has the opportunity to be graced with our presence at least once a month.  Bragging rights are allowed as well for their "Terroir Award" an award that goes to the winery that displays the best regional character in its wines from the 2013 Riverside International Wine Competition.  Truth be told, Augusta Winery in fact displays a rich assortment of varieties, but our true pleasure comes from sampling their Icewine.  Normally, we are not a huge fan of Icewine, but Augusta aims to please with it and we aren't complaining.  For an old world take on new world varietals, do not miss the opportunity to try wine from Augusta Winery.

Röbller Vineyard and Winery 

Little known fact about Röbller Vineyard and Winery...their tasting room is situated on top of their rustic wine cellar. We just recently got a private tour of this cellar where all of their wine is produced. Robert and Lois Mueller have always shown us great hospitality and enjoy sharing stories of their travels to Germany and their son's Air Force experiences. They are also fabulous winemakers! Our favorites include their Seyval, St. Vincent, and Vignoles. Enjoy their top-notch wines on their deck and take in the stunning view of their vineyards.

Jowler Creek Winery

Last year was our first visit to Jowler Creek Vineyard & Winery, and it will not be our last! Located just 30 miles North of downtown Kansas City, you'll come across the green winery and sustainable vineyard of Jowler Creek. Jason and Colleen's philosophy focuses on quality, not quantity. Their tasting room is situated on a lovely piece of countryside where you can see the chicken and sheep handling the weed control in the vineyards. We really loved the theme they went with for their marketing. They have a "critter" to represent each bottle, and Michael even got himself a t-shirt to represent the brand back home. When you visit, be sure to sample the Nort and stock up on a case to get you through the winter.

Blumenhof Winery

We are lucky enough to have Bluemhof Winery less than 40 minutes from our house. We always tell people that this is the winery you want to go to if you're a fan of Missouri Whites. All of their wines are superb, but their whites are all flawless. If we had to narrow it down to our top three, we would have to say Vignoles, La Charrette, and the best, Valvin Muscat. Visiting this winery is like taking a mini vacation to Germany with the German-style wines to the quaint coco-clock styled building. They have a large patio with lots of picnic benches and umbrellas for you to enjoy the snacks you bring or buy a brat from the food stand while you take in the live music. This winery embodies the essence of what a Missouri winery should be... great wine, good atmosphere, welcoming staff.

West Winery

We came across this gem on our way home from Kirksville. We never knew Macon, Missouri would be the home of one of Missouri's best wineries. Downtown you'll find an 1880's building housing this urban winery. You may be in the middle of the state, but this winery could fit in on Washington Ave. in St. Louis or on The Plaza in Kansas City. Modern and sleek with a highly-knowledgeable staff, West Winery is an experience every Missouri wine lover should try.  They produce the wine in the back of their building, and we were lucky enough to meet the owner, Chris West, and do some barrel sampling. We were most impressed with their red wines, but enjoyed everything we sampled. This winery really broke the mold and serves an impressive product.  One word describes the wines we were privileged enough to indulge, Chambourcin!

We had a great year experiencing Missouri wine country and though we only mentioned ten in depth here, there were a few others that we want to give a shout out to, including:

All these wineries produce high-quality wines and we cannot wait to return to see how they've improved this year!

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