5 Reasons You Should Pay Attention to Missouri Wines

Will Missouri be the next Napa Valley of the Midwest? It could be.

by Ettie Berneking

Aug 01 2022 at 8 a.m.

Will Missouri be the next Napa Valley of the Midwest? It could be.

It’s really not that far-fetched. Peter Hofherr, chairman and CEO of St. James Winery and chairman of the Wine and Grape Board says before prohibition, the three leading wine producing states were New York, California and Missouri. Once prohibition hit, all that changed. Today, Missouri has moved from the top three wine producing states to the top 10, and it’s known for producing sweeter wines, but that is changing. 

As climate change causes Missouri’s growing season to shift, and new weather patterns mean the state can grow a whole new crop of varietals, the Show Me state is investing big in its wine industry. Here are five reasons you should start paying attention to Missouri wine and start adding a few local bottles to your wine cellar.


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1. Missouri is stockpiling wine enthusiasts

Missouri is home to several multi-generational wineries, which means all that knowledge is staying in the state. Adam Puchta Winery in Hermann is actually the oldest continuously owned family winery in the U.S. Stone Hill Winery is now being run by the second generation of Held wine enthusiasts in Hermann. And St. James Winery is on its third generation of winemakers. 

2. Missouri ranks 10th in the U.S. in Wine Production 

There are more than 130 wineries in Missouri and 11 wine trails visitors can travel, and many of those wineries have a deep history in US wine. For instance, Stone Hill Winery was the third largest winery in the world at one time, and the Missouri River Valley used to be a leading wine producing region in the region. Also, did you know the Norton grape—Missouri’s state grape—is the oldest native grape in the U.S.?

3. Fruit Wines Aren’t Just on TV

Fans of Schitt’s Creek will remember Moira’s disastrous commercial for Herb Ertlinger’s fruit wines. Well, those wines are alive and well off the TV screen at Missouri wineries. Fruit wines are actually the most awarded fruit wines in the U.S., and they’re 100% fruit. St. James winery has a range of fruit wines from blueberry, blackberry, mango and cherry to peach and strawberry. It also has cranberry wine for the holidays. Oh! and in the summer, these fruit wines are canned and enjoyed as sparkling wine. So if orange wines can make it into Vogue and Food and Wine, then blueberry wine can surely be next.

4. Climate Change Means Missouri Can Grow new Grapes

Missourians like their sweet wines. There’s no denying it. “They’re still our most popular style here,” tk says. “But I see more demand for semi-dry now.” As the state’s climate changes, Missouri wineries are able to grow varietals that were not possible ten years ago,, and St. James is experimenting with new grapes. Andrew Meggitt, the executive winemaker at St. James, marked off 5 acres of research wines back in 2017. “That allows me to plant half an acre of grapes for each trial,” he says, and each trial produces two to four barrels of wine. Meggitt is a New Zealand native, and he joined St. James Winery in 2002 before being named Top 100 Most Influential Winemakers in the U.S. by IntoWine.com. Customers can try these experimental batches as part of the winery’s Winemaker Series. The series is all about search and development to see what grapes will grow best in Missouri’s changing climate.

5. Some of Those French Wines You Love are Now Grown in Missouri

Norton might be Missouri’s state grape, but international grape varietals are thriving here as well. A great example of this is the vignole grape. Vignoles were first grown in France in 1951 and have a semi-sweet, fruity flavor that goes over well with the Missouri crowd. As a late-harvest grape, this varietal does surprisingly well in Missouri’s long and hot summers. Then there’s the dryer (but still fruity) American/French hybrid, Traminette. Chardonel, another late ripening fruit, can be dry, oaky, fruit-forward or crisp depending on how the winery treats the grape. At St. James Winery, the team added Cabernet Franc, Dornfelder and Auxerrois plantings on a large scale. These compliment the French American hybrid and native grapes the winery has been able to grow for the past 50 years.

About St. James Winery


St. James Winery is a family-owned, internationally awarded winery in the Missouri Ozarks. Besides growing and producing award-winning wines, St. James is dedicated to building sustainable growing practices that can reduce the winery's impact on the environment. It’s investing in water-conservation practices and low-energy wine fermentation and storage process and even those screw tops reduce the winery's lasting impact by swapping out hard-to-recycle cork.

St. James Winery is the most awarded winery in the state, and dedication to creating new and exciting wines can be seen in its Winemakers Series and the Explorer Collection. Both limited-release series feature wines that are part of the winery’s research and development program aimed at discovering which grapes grow best in Missouri’s changing climate. Wines in the Explorer Collection are available at retailers throughout the state, while the Winemakers Series is only available at the winery and through the winery’s website.