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.
Your one-night Vintner's Getaway package includes a tour of the Crown Valley Winery, wherein a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide will lead you through the behind-the-scenes areas of the 55-acre winery, taking you step by increasingly zigzagged step through the wine-making process. Along the way, you'll get an up-close look at the massive tanks, the wine-storing oak barrels, and the bottling line before sampling the creations in their final form. You'll also enjoy a separate tour of Crown Valley's champagne house, complete with tastings of its effervescent, fizzy-lifting drinks.
The owners of Vino Vitae welcome newcomers and connoisseurs alike to the wide world of wine appreciation. They constantly research wines, sharing bottles not typically found in the aisles of grocery stores with groups during classes and tastings held indoors at their shop's bar or, in warm weather, on an outdoor patio. Guests may learn how to describe the scent of wine using an aroma wheel, how to judge quality, and other skills.
On the weekend of October 11, thousands of Deutschlandishly whimsical folks will celebrate German culture with cold, frothy beer and traditional German food at Soulard Oktoberfest, one of the Top 3 fests in the country. Frauleins fill mugs to overflowing with pilsners and lagers from Paulaner, Kulmbacher, and Schlafly, all poured from a stockpile of kegs and one beer-granting genie. In between mingling with friends, guests can appease their appetites with steaming bratwursts, German pretzels, roasted turkey legs, and other mouth-watering provender, along with a round of Jägermeister. To top it all off, the festivities get a hearty dose of Bavarian-style music played by live bands such as the Polkanauts, Deutschmeister Brass Band, and The Dorfrockers, one of Germany's premier party bands.