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.
Crown Valley Winery, nestled on a small hill amid prolific vineyards and rolling greenery, beckons for passersby to peruse its flourishing grounds and sample its inimitably crafted libations. Couples and especially friendly strangers stroll along hand in hand on a 30-minute guided tour, gleaning tidbits on the winemaking process. After the tour fills ear canals with interesting facts about adult grape juices, visitors gather at the wood-ensconced, naturally lit tasting room or on the outside patio overlooking the verdant estate to sample splashes of vino. Swill tastes of Crown Valley’s Estate and Museum Collection before departing with three flavorful bottles of wine, which can be popped open during special occasions such as family get-togethers or graduation from Rubik’s Cube University.
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.