Hermann, MO was founded in 1837 by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia as a place to preserve German culture and heritage. Before prohibition, the area thrived with its wine production and then was hit hard afterwards. It took until the 1960’s for it to start up again and to thrive. The town has many bed and breakfasts, restaurants and shops in addition to the popular Hermann Wine Trail.
There are special events throughout the year including Octoberfest and The Say Cheese Wine Trail in mid-December, where you can sample wine and cheese pairings in the local wineries.
Local varietals include Chambourcin, a hybrid American-French grape and Norton, first cultivated in Virginia and now the official grape of the State of Missouri. It is considered the cornerstone of the Missouri wine industry. Vignoles or semi-sweet is yet another. Norton grapes produce a full-bodied dry red wine similar to a Cab or Zinfandel. Chambourcin is a medium-bodied red wine similar to a Pinot Noir with cherry tones. Vignoles produces dry to sweet late harvest dessert wines similar to a German Riesling.
Make sure to visit:
Hermannhof Winery: At 330 East First Street, this is an excellent winery established in 1852. It is located in an historic building with ten stone cellars. In addition to tours and wine tastings, there is an attractive deli where you can buy lunch. They offer a number of dry white, rose and red, sweeter whites, and fruit wines.
The building is one of 100 early local buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Stone Hill Winery: At 1100 Stone Hill Hwy., Stone Hill was originally started in 1847 and is the oldest winery in the state. Today it is a successful winery that offers tastings and tours through the historic wine cellars. I enjoyed my tasting. The Chambourcin, a little lighter medium-bodied red with black current, cherry notes, and Norton varietals were excellent reds as was the Port made with Norton red wine. Norton is the official State grape. Theirs’s is a mix of fruit, spice and oak. Their Vintage Restaurant offers a great dining experience in the old horse stables. It features many German specialties including Sauerbraten, one of my favorites.
In addtion to the Hermannof Winery, other wineries on the Hermann Wine Trail include Adam Puchta Winery at 1947 Frene Creek Road, which also has a B&B, Dierberg Estate Vineyard, Bias Winery in Berger and Robller Winery in nearby New Haven.
OakGlenn Vineyards & Winery, at 1104 Oak Glenn Place, has wonderful views of the Missouri River below. They had a good Cabernet Sauvignon and a very good Norton. They have a large tasting room, with a large covered porch and a large outdoor stage with seating. There are music events in the summer months and during Octoberfest on weekends in October.
Bias Winery & Gruhlke’s Microbrewery: At 3166 Hwy B in Berger MO, just outside of Hermann, this is a small winery, started in 1980, in a pretty setting along the river bluffs. I was not a fan of the rose, but their Chambourcin was medium bodied and good. There are many events throughtout the year.
Tin Mill Brewing Company, in Hermann at First and Gutenberg: Here you can tour the brewery and taste their beers which include seasonals in addition to the regular line of beers, wheat beers and pilsners. The Oktoberfest beer is dark and very malty. Food is also available on the premises.
Another dining option is the Hermann Wurst Haus where you can enjoy their meat products in their popular deli. Stop in at the Bank Bar for a cocktail at the Schiller Guest Suites downtown. Espresso Laine at 100 Schiller St. is a popular coffee shop for locals.
To stay, there is the Inn at the Hermannhof, and the Vallet House (formerly the Alpenhorn Gasthaus) which offers four-course Wine Country Dinners and nightly Chocolate and Wine Cellar Rendevous. The Hermann Hill Inn is a luxury boutique hotel with 20 suites and cottages. I understand that all are very good.