Missouri is home to several wine regions, where stands of grapes sprout up between hay fields and cow pastures. Ste. Genevieve County is one of these regions, home to several family wineries on the “Route du Vin.”
The Route du Vin, named for the region's French heritage, starts in the town of Ste. Genevieve and stretches west all the way to Farmington. Ste. Genevieve is about 50 miles south of Arnold down Hwy. 55. You can pick out a few wineries to visit or make a weekend of it.
There are few precautions to take when planning a drive on the Route du Vin. Most of the wineries are connected by long stretches of twisty two-lane country roads, so if you plan to pop the cork on any of your purchases get a designated driver. Second, print out a real map of the Route to double check your GPS. GPS directions might get you there, but it could also lead you down a narrow gravel road with creek fords instead of bridges. (Need you ask why we know?)
The official Route du Vin has six wineries: Cave Winery, Charleville Winery, Chaumette Winery, Sainte Genevieve Winery, Sand Creek Winery and Twin Oaks Winery. The behemoth Crown Valley Winery (and brewery) is also in this area, but was probably left off because it doesn’t need any help attracting tourists. This is no reason to ignore it—in fact, it’s a good idea to pencil it back into your map.
All the wineries offer samples at their tasting bars. Some are free, but a few places charge and throw in a souvenir wine glass to keep. Most of these wineries are small family businesses with a bar in the tasting room and patio overlooking a field of grapes or rolling farmland. You might even be treated to live music on a Saturday afternoon (but check their website first). It’s also a good idea to check each winery’s hours—many are only open until 6pm on weekends and few are open seven days a week.
Cave Winery has an actual cave on its property, but you’ll need to visit the tasting room first and purchase a bottle to gain entry. The cave is set up with tables like a dining hall and you can bring your own picnic basket. You can also rent the cave ($12 a person) for a meeting or a movie night—projector included. They have 14 acres of grapes planted and you can take a peek at their fermentation tanks from a balcony off the tasting room.
Charleville Winery has a tasting room and patio that overlooks the Saline Creek Valley. A restored 1860s log cabin on the property serves as a bed and breakfast on the weekends. Samples are free and picnic baskets are welcome on the patio, or you can purchase cheese and sausage from the tasting room. This winery also serves up handcrafted micro beers brewed on site.
Chaumette Winery is more of a wine resort with villas to rent, a banquet hall large enough to host weddings, a gourmet restaurant and a spa that features grape skincare products. If you’re interested in spending the weekend on the Route du Vin, you may want to check out their rates and make this your base of operations. The tasting room is open from noon to 5 p.m., or join them for lunch at the Grapevine Grill.
Crown Valley is huge, but still very charming. They actually have two locations—a winery and a brewery. If a member of your wine tasting party would rather down a beer and pretzel, make sure you stop here. Both their locations have tasting rooms—the winery charges $6 for five samples and a souvenir glass, and the brewery charges $1 for a 3-ounce sample of draft beer or $7 for eight samples, and they throw in a brewery tour. Both locations also have scenic patios and a causal restaurant of the pizza and BBQ variety. No picnics allowed. Non-drinkers might want to try their root beer.
Sainte Genevieve Winery has a store front in the historic Village of Ste. Genevieve where its tasting room and gift shop is located. Samples are free. The winery was the first to open in Ste. Genevieve County back in 1983 and is operated by the Hoffmeister family. They still live on the family vineyard, which is not open to the public.
Sand Creek Winery is the newest winery and has nine wines to try. They have live music and catered BBQ to purchase on the weekends, as well as the usual cheese and sausage samplers.
Twin Oaks Winery has a patio overlooking a lovely pond as well as an indoor tasting room with a fireplace for cooler seasons. The tasting room has a large gift shop and stocked with munchies to purchase. The tasting room is in the middle of their 180 acre farm, with vines growing right next to the parking lot. They have live music on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Most of these wines can be picked up in St. Louis County at larger liquor stores or your local Schnucks, so if you find a wine you really enjoy, you can easily keep it stocked at home. Friar Tucks and Lukas Liquor both have a large selection of Missouri wines and carry many of these wines.
You can pick up a “passport” and map to Missouri Wine country from the Missouri Wine and Grape Board. All Missouri wineries should have free passport books available for visitors where you can jot notes about your visit and collect passport stamps. After collecting four stamps you can start earning free gifts.