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.
Located in the idyllic Ozark Highlands, Meramec Vineyards offers visitors a full experience of drinking, eating, shopping, and learning. Its small, cozy eatery, Bistro d'Vine, is open for lunch daily and serves a menu of fresh, seasonal bistro fare, such as quiche with baby greens ($7.35), pork tenderloin with fresh fruit, cheese, and caramelized onions ($7.45), and salmon served over a greek salad ($9.95). Meramec also has bottled wine ($8.95–$23.95) available for purchase for sipping or for christening cruise ships. There's a wine to suit all occasions, including Celebration White ($9.95) for clambakes, New World Red ($8.95) for Thanksgiving feasts, and a pumpkin-flavored Harvest Moon ($10.95) for scaring already skittish Ichabod Cranes. Guests can commemorate their time at Meramec with non-liquid souvenirs from the gift shop, such as gourmet food, wine openers, or a local artist's rendering of you buying his painting.
The grapes that grow fat on the vines at St. Jordan Creek Winery sit on land that has been in the same family for nearly a century. Harvested in micro-lots, the grapes are eventually transformed into tasty reds and whites that are available for sale in the shop. Visitors can sip samples inside the tasting room, or take tours of the winery riding inside an open-air wagon.
Nestled amid the picturesque river valleys and pastoral scenery of the Augusta wine region, Blumenhof Winery treats guests to gourmet meals and handcrafted wines made from Missouri-grown grapes. Just as the members of a barbershop quartet work together to fight crime, the four courses of August 19's prix fixe dinner operate harmoniously to conquer cravings, combining complementary culinary styles for a well-orchestrated epicurean experience. The peppery prelude of chilled shrimp in a piquant Cajun remoulade comes partnered with crisp andouille and roasted-red-pepper confit, followed by a spicy Sichuan salad sporting bean sprouts, crisp arugula, celery, carrots, and chopped peanuts. The main course of pork tenderloin travels atop plates with a savory retinue of red Colusari rice and haricots verts, and the sweet finale of Kahlua crème brûlée leaves feasters grinning as broadly as a Cheshire cat at a comedy club thanks to its dulcet dollop of cardamom whipped cream.
When Lindsey Schaefer moved back to St. Louis, she noticed that something had changed. Microbreweries were popping up everywhere, and she pleasantly found more and more craft beers inside local stores. So, Lindsey created the STL Brewery Hop as a celebration of the city's best brews.
On weekends, a tour bus takes up to 20 passengers to local breweries, where guides speak to the history and operations of each business. They hand out samples, too, of course. A typical hop might sample the Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown of the 4 Hands Brewing Company or Urban Chestnut beer.