The Cooper’s Oak Winery is located on the premises of A&K Cooperage, proprietor of fine American and French oak barrels. This isn't a coincidence—the winery uses those high-quality barrels as vessels for its blended and specialty varietals. The barrels' contribution is clear in sips of the Toasted Oak, a cabernet sauvignon mixed with merlot and aged in heavily toasted oak, and the Triple Oak Bliss, a dark and bold red blend of three domestic grapes, aged in American oak emblazoned with tasty smiley faces. Cooper’s also crafts sweet blush wine, a vidal ice wine, and a French hybrid vignoles.
The old mulberry tree at the top of Noboleis Vineyards—the same creature that graces the estate's wine labels—symbolizes the endurance of Robert and Lou Ann Nolan in pursuing their dream to own a vineyard. After purchasing a 74-acre expanse of Augusta farmland in 2005, the Nolans planted their first grapes: chambourcin, traminette, norton, and vignoles. Initial growth indicated high yields, but a late frost in 2007 claimed most of the chambourcin crop. Adversity struck again in 2011, when a tornado tore through part of the vineyards and lifted sections of roof off of the winery.
But between these setbacks, the Nolans built a steady string of accomplishments. Their first vintages claimed multiple awards at the 2010 Missouri Governor's Cup, and what had started as plain farmland grew into an estate encompassing an onsite winery, tasting room, cafe, and wine shop. The Nolans now lead tours and host tastings so that visitors can get an up-close look at how Noboleis's wines—such as the barrel-fermented vidal blanc—are produced without tickling the grapes. The indoor and outdoor grounds also regularly host events that range from weddings to live music performances.
Seven wineries make up the Missouri River Wine Trail. They all sit alongside or near the Missouri River, so the trail makes for a scenic drive between locations?and a quick one, too, as none are more than 30 minutes away from one another. The wineries include Les Bourgeois Vineyards, where guests may meet cats Syrah and Jeunette Rouge, who protect the barrels from bacchanalian laser pointers, and Bushwhacker Bend Winery, where enophiles can relax on a patio overlooking the river. Missouri River Wine Trail's tours are all self-guided, and most center on themes such as barbecue for Father's Day and local herbs that pair well with wines.
Chandler Hill Vineyards' rolling, verdant rows of Norton, Chambourcin and Vignoles grapes and placid lakeside views offer visitors a quiet place to get away from it all. Built on land once owned by freed slave Joseph Chandler, the winery still retains the essence of the past. The 5,000-square-foot, lodge-like tasting room stands on the site of Chandler's modest cabin. Century-old artifacts discovered during the excavation, including a shotgun and a Hoveround, remain on display, and stones from the original foundation have been carefully repurposed. As candles in a wrought-iron fixture flicker overhead, guests here sip wines from Missouri and the West Coast and chat by a glowing fire in a large stone fireplace.
In its A-List 2010 feature, St. Louis Magazine said, "We?re fans of many regional wineries, but there?s something about Chandler Hill that feels a little more sophisticated, a little extra tucked-away." Thanks to its picturesque vineyards, 5,000-square-foot deck for warm-weather relaxation, and events such as live music performances, the secluded spot was named the Most Fun Winery on Ladue News's 2012 Platinum List.