Stone Hill first opened its doors in 1847, making it Missouri’s oldest winery. After enjoying a welcoming Methode Champenoise Brut Rosé and some cheese and crackers, senior winemaker Dave Johnson gave us a tour of the grounds and the winemaking facilities. He also shared the winery’s history with us. At its peak, Stone Hill produced 1.2 million gallons of wine annually, more than the entire production in Missouri today. When Prohibition was enacted in 1920, it effectively closed the doors on the Missouri wine industry. All the vines planted at Stone Hill were pulled out. Local farm couple Jim and Betty Held purchased the winery in 1965. At the time, the underground cellars were used to grow mushrooms.
After tasting a few vintages of their award-winning Norton wine from the barrel, Dave turned us over to current head winemaker Sean Turnbull. South African, Sean displays a clear passion for winemaking. Many of Missouri’s grapes, Vignoles, Chardonnel and Traminette for instance, were completely foreign to him. He learned quickly and is growing to love Missouri wines. Stone Hill produces about 27 wines, from dry whites and reds to sweet and “super sweet wines.” “The whole spectrum,” said Sean. “We try to hit every palate.” We tasted several of them, including Vidal Blanc which he calls an “awesome summer wine” as well as Traminette and Chambourcin, a light red which he feels resembles an Oregon Pinot Noir. I truly enjoyed the wines I tasted and wound up bringing a few home. I was very sad when we finished the last bottle.
I checked into Alpenhorn Gasthouse and was immediately struck by the warmth and hospitality of innkeeper Adrian Sigrist. This B & B is charming and cozy and I felt right at home. Adrian showed me where the wine was, quite an extensive selection I might add, and where the coffee maker was located. He then took me to my tiny cottage, Das Kleine Haus, German for the little house. With a comfortable bed, fridge, coffee maker and bluetooth speaker, I was all set!
After breakfast we set out to explore more of Hermann wine country. I’ll share the rest of the day with you in the very near future.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous, a food, wine and travel blog in 2009 and is a long-time member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. He is a three-time recipient of the best tour award from the Luxury Travel Guide in Birmingham, England. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.