Wine, women and song (weekends)

June 6, 2008

This week we’ll be taking out-of-town guests to sample Missouri wine country, so I started checking into the free entertainment the wineries are offering this weekend. To my delight, one of our favorite duos, Mo and Dawn, is playing at Blumenhof Winery in Dutzow from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday (June 8). I love the slightly incongruous pairing of a very urban soul/jazz/electronica act with the countrified setting. One of the only drawbacks to Blumenhof is that its courtyard is in a slight valley, which sometimes blocks the cooling breezes. The wineries along the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River might be a better choice for the 90-plus days this weekend — Montelle, Mount Pleasant and Balducci are some of our favorites in the Augusta area, which is the closest American Viticultural Area (a grape-growing region designated by the U.S. government) to St. Louis. Like Blumenhof, nearly all of the region’s other wineries offer live music on weekend afternoons, and some go into the evening hours as well. For links to the wineries, visit the state Wine and Grape Board’s homepage.

Our next-door neighbors rarely head west when they’re seeking a winery day out — their choice is the Ste. Genevieve area, particularly Chaumette Winery. We always enjoy comparing our picks from the west against theirs from the south. We’re fans of the grape varieties that grow well in this region, Norton and Chambourcin, Traminette and Vignoles. To learn educate yourself in them before your winery visit, check out the Wine and Grape Board’s link above, or check out its new site, NortonSays.com, which is, of course, all about Norton grapes.

Some of the wineries don’t allow picnics, but a few do, so if you’re set on bringing your own food, be sure to call ahead. The beverages, obviously, should be purchased on site. All of them are friendly to children, within reason (no letting the kids run wild while you’re off sampling!); we’ve seen plenty of kids at tasting counters sipping their own grape juices.  If you’re making a day of wine tasting, be sure to bring a cooler along, ’cause there’s nothing worse for wine than sitting in a hot car all afternoon!  You’ll also want to call ahead to find out what music is on the schedule, because most of the wineries’ homepages are updated infrequently.  The vintners are too busy out in the vineyards, for which we can only salute them with a heartfelt toast.

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