Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Missouri Wines

Missouri Wines Collage

When you think of wine, Missouri probably isn’t first on your mind. That wasn’t always the case. Back in 1870, Missouri, with about 120 wineries, led the nation in wine production. And in 1873, a Missouri wine presented a Norton wine at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna, winning a Medal of Merit, and being one of only three wineries in the U.S. to win such a medal. A dangerous vineyard pest, the phylloxera louse, destroyed enormous tracts of vineyards in France. Missouri helped rebuild the European vineyards by sending phylloxera resistant American rootstock to be grafted with French vine cuttings. The resultant vines proved extremely hardy and soon the French wine industry was back on its feet. Missouri’s wine production was soon eclipsed by the growth of the California wine industry. In the 1960s and 1970s, the rebirth of the commercial wine industry in Missouri began with the restoration of several original wineries. The early pioneers worked hard to regain the former stature of the wine industry amid a slowly changing cultural and regulatory environment. The Missouri wine industry in the new millennium is thriving. The number of wineries has increased and Missouri wineries are producing diverse, complex and sophisticated wines, wines that easily earn top awards in national and international competitions.

Missouri is home to the country's first designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The first AVA in the United States was accorded to Augusta, Missouri on June 20, 1980. Napa Valley was the second AVA named after Augusta on February 27, 1981. Other Missouri AVAs include Ozark Mountain, Hermann, and Ozark Highlands.

Missouri Wines Collage

Even though we live relatively close to Missouri, it’s just far enough away that it’s not a casual trip for us, so we were pretty excited that Missouri Wines  was going to round up some samples for us to try. We’ve just started tasting the wines (see my post on the Augusta Winery 2010 Vignoble)  – keep a lookout for all the tasting notes over the next several weeks!

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