Missouri Wine

Missouri Wine refers to any wine made from grapes grown in the state of Missouri. Missouri wine is notable because since the area was settled by European, especially German, immigrants in the early 1800s wine production has been active and renowned. Missouri is also home to the first federally recognized American Viticultural Area with the Augusta AVA receiving the status on June 20th, 1980.

Grapes Grown

Missouri's climate, with its long, hot summers and good sun exposure, and thin rocky Ozarks soil, is excellent for growing grapes, while its moderate average temperature allows natural cellaring of wine. The winters, however, are too cold to reliably grow some popular grape varieties of the species Vitis vinifera found in Europe and California. The most prominent Missouri variety is Cynthiana/Norton, believed to be a variety of Vitis aestivalis. Other varieties grown include native American grapes, Concord, and Catawba, as well as French-American hybrids, Vignoles, Seyval, and Chambourcin.

History

Native Americans cultivated local varieties of grape, and these species were developed by later European immigrants. Hermann, Missouri, settled by Germans in 1837, had ideal conditions to grow these grapes, and by 1848 produced 10,000 gallons per year, expanding to 100,000 gallons per year by 1856. Later, Italian immigrants expanded production in the Rolla, Missouri area. The state produced two million gallons per year by the 1880s, being the largest wine-producing state in the country. In the mid-19th century the phylloxera louse destroyed much of the French grape crop; Missouri's state entomologist, Charles Riley, encouraged the sending of resistant Missouri rootstocks to France to combat the epidemic. The Missouri wine industry was wiped out in 1919 by the imposition of Prohibition, the only remaining winery being St. Stanislaus Seminary, in Florissant, which made sacramental wines; recovery started in 1965 by the reopening of Stone Hill Winery, followed by Mount Pleasant Winery. A state tax on wine imposed in 1984, now 12 cents per gallon, supports the Missouri Wine and Grape Program, providing scientific and marketing support for Missouri wines. The three largest wineries in Missouri are in order: Stone Hill Winery, Mount Pleasant Winery, and Les Bourgeois Winery.

Current Situation

The wine industry is still small in Missouri, but is growing very quickly, and the market for Missouri wine is estimated to be far higher than current production. Wine production in the state by 2001 was about a half million gallons (1,900,000 liters) per year, and made up about 6% of state's wine consumption. The state had a total of 47 wineries in 2003. In 2001, the state had 870 acres in wine grape production with Concord, Catawaba and Norton being the most significant varieties (all of which are American varieties). There were no significant planting of vinifera varieties.

The state government hopes to encourage the local wine industry by promoting Missouri regionalism: integrating grape agriculture with winemaking, the restraurant business, and tourism, as a way of combatting the uniformity of globalism.

Missouri wines, especially of the Norton variety, have won many major international awards.

Missouri is home to both the first and second recognized American Viticultural Areas in the US, Augusta in 1980 and Hermann in 1983.

Wikipedia :: Missouri Wine

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