Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Drink Local Wine Conference 2011 in St. Louis: The World of Missouri Wine, USA

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Tim Puchta, Owner of Adam Puchta and Son Wine Company, Hermann, Missouri, Winner of 2 of the 4 Twitter Taste-Off Awards at the DLW2011 Conference in St. Louis, Missouri held its third annual conference April 1-3, 2011, in St. Louis, Missouri, and I was very happy to be able to participate in it. Indeed, it turned out to be 4 wonderful days in Missouri! is about spotlighting wine made in the 47 States of the US that are not one of the big three: California, Washington State, and Oregon.

Wine Producer Missouri

This year’s focus was on the world of Missouri wine, a world that I knew little of before the conference. But I found out during the 4 days that Missouri produces top-flight wine, although it does so with few European (vitis vinifera) grapes – such as Chardonnay or Merlot - in sight. Missouri’s more than 100 wineries specialize in French-American hybrid grapes and native American grapes like Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc, and Norton - the latter one being the most prominent Missouri-grown variety. The State’s climate is harsh and humid and vinifera grapes have a hard time to thrive under these conditions, although recently there has been more interest in planting vinifera grape varieties.

Picture: Wines of Missouri (Source: where, St. Louis April 2011)

Missouri’s wine history dates to the 1830s, when German immigrants established Hermann and the Missouri River as one of the main viticulture areas in the US, growing the American grapes that they found there when they arrived, including Norton. 50 years later, more wine was produced in Missouri than in any other State in the US. But then came Prohibition and brought Missouri’s wine industry to a halt. However, Missouri’s wine industry came back, starting in the 1960, in particular after French American hybrid grapes became available. Indeed, the Augusta AVA (American Viticultural Area, the American equivalent of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée - AOC) in Missouri is the first federally approved AVA (gaining the status on June 20, 1980, eight months before the Napa Valley AVA).

Today, Missouri has more than 1,400 acres planted in grapes and more than 100 wineries. Missouri is again a serious wine producer, relying heavily on French American Hybrids when it comes to quality wines. However, overall, Missouri has become a small player, accounting for less than 0.5% of total production in the US.

DLW2011 Related Postings on schiller-wine

This posting gives an (1) overview of the Drink Local Wine Conference 2011 in Missouri. I plan to post more about the DLW2011 Conference and the wines of Missouri. Specifically, I plan to write in more detail about (2) the DLW2011 Twitter Tasting; (3) the Wines and the Wine Industry of Missouri (4) the Augusta AVA, being America’s first AVA; (5) the French American hybrid grapes on which Missouri is relying so much; and the 3 winemakers I visited: (6) Sugar Creek Vineyards & Winery; (7) Montelle Winery and (8) Mount Pleasant Winery.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller Conference Badge

Drink Local Wine

DLW2011 followed the success of the first two conferences -- in Dallas featuring Texas wine in 2009 and in Loudoun County featuring Virginia wine in 2010. It's the brainchild of Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre and wine blogger Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. I participated in the DLW2010 and reported about it here.

First Conference Day: April 2, 2011

Pictures: Washington Post Wine Ccolumnist Dave McIntyre and Wine Blogger Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon, Opening the Conference

We don't need no stinkin' vinifera: The Grapes of Missouri

9-9:50 a.m.: Moderator: Doug Frost, MS, MW. Panelists: Andrew Meggitt, executive winemaker, St. James Winery, Tony Kooyumjian, owner/winemaker, Augusta Winery, Cory Bomgaars, head winemaker, Les Bourgeois Vineyards. From left to right in the picture below:

A fascinating discussion about Missouri's reliance on non-vinifera grapes, which went through Seyval Blanc, Vidal, Vignoles, Traminette and Chambourcin before turning to Missouri's official state grape, the Norton. More about this in a separate posting.

Creating a buzz: How regional wine can grab the public's attention

10 - 10:50 a.m.: Moderator: Michael Wangbicker, Balzac Communications; Panelists: Kyle Harsha, Harsha Wines, Andrew Stover, Joe Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks; Gil Kulers, Atlanta Journal Constitution. From left to right in the picture below:

A well-known and often discussed issue. As an example of the issue, the Doubletree Westport in St. Louis, the conference venue, did not have any Missouri wines on its menu. Andrew Stover talked about the problems of bringing Virginia wines to the Washington DC restaurant scene. He is one of the few who does that.

Interestingly, 90% of Missouri wine is consumed by 12 % of the Missouri population.

Does 'Locavore' = 'Locapour'?

11-11:50 a.m.: Moderator: Dave McIntyre, Washington Post; Panelists: Todd Kliman, author, The Wild Vine. Glenn Bargdett, Annie Gunn's; Ann Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks. From left to right: Todd Klimann is not in the picture, but his book on Norton:

Todd Klimann - the author of "The Wild Vine" and the food and wine editor of the Washingtonian - presented some controversial positions. He encouraged the Missouri winemakers not to compete with California: “Forget about competition. Bring in the local component. You should accept that Norton is not mainstream, but on the margin. It is like alternative culture. Alternative culture is fascinating and so are wines that are not mainstream. I was attracted to write about Norton because it was different and not because it was top level”.

Missouri Twitter Taste-off

1-4:30 p.m. Emcees: Russ Kane, Vintage Texas, and Eric V. Orange, Russ is on the left and Eric on the right in the picture below:

20 Missouri wineries participated; each winery poured 2 wines.

Participants in the Twitter Taste-off were blogging and tweeting about what they tasted, with the Twitter hash tag #DLWMO. The tweets were shown on a screen. The screen, changing constantly, was displaying real-time tweets by people present at the tasting, but also by people at home sitting in front of their computer and following the tasting via Twitter. These people could also sent tweets and participate in the discussion. And they did. Last year, at the DLW2010 in Virginia, 4 million Twitter impressions were recorded; this year’s number, I am sure, will be even higher.

Pictures: At the Twitter Taste-off

Wineries Participating in the Twitter Taste-Off

• 7CS Winery
• Adam Puchta Winery
• Augusta Winery
• Buck Mountain Winery
• Cave Vineyard/Strussione Wine
• Chaumette Vineyards & Winery
• Indian Creek Winery
• Jowler Creek Winery
• Les Bourgeois Vineyards
• Montelle Winery
• Peaceful Bend Vineyard
• Robller Vineyard Winery
• Seven Springs Winery
• St. James Winery
• Stone Hill Winery
• Sugar Creek Vineyards & Winery
• Wenwood Farm Winery
• Westphalia Vineyards
• White Rose Winery

The Winners

After three hours of sipping, tweeting and repeating, the attendees cast their votes. Here are the results:

Best White Wine: Chaumette Chardonel 2009
Best Red Wine: Adam Puchta Norton 2005
Media Choice Wine: Chaumette Chardonel 2009
People Choice Wine: Adam Puchta Port NV

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Hank Johnson, Owner of Chaumette Vineyards and Winery in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Winemaker Reception and Buffet, 5-7 p.m.

Second Conference Day: April 3

A group of about 30 conference participants visited 3 wineries: Sugar Creek Vineyards & Winery; Montelle Winery; and Mount Pleasant Winery. I will report separately about these wineries.

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller at Sugar Creek Vineyards & Winery with Winemaker Chris Lorch and Proprietors Ken and Becky Miller

Pictures: At Montelle Winery with Winemaker and Owner Tony Kooyumjian

Pictures: At Mount Pleasant Winery with Mount Pleasant Winery President Chuck Dressel


Here is a list of some of the participants of the DLW2011 and their affiliation

Jay Bileti, Arizona Vines & Wines
Mary Bloch, Around the Block
Kate Canterbury, Capturing CoMo
Dave Falchek, Times-Shamrock Communications
Doug Frost,
Lisa Hall, Wine Business Monthly
Kimberly Henricks-Friedhoff, Slow Foods St. Louis
Tom Johnson, Louisville Juice
Russ Kane, Vintage Texas
Todd Kliman, Washingtonian Magazine; The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape
Gil Kulers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Wine Kulers
Michael Levine, KC Wine Buzz
Dave McIntyre, Washington Post; Dave McIntyre’s WineLine
George Mahe, St. Louis magazine
Trish Meyer, Janet Kaesberg, Discovering Midwest Wines
Catherine Neville, Brandi Wills, Kristin Brashares, Feast magazine
Eric V. Orange,
Angela Ortmann, St. Louis Wine Girl
Chris Perrin, BlogWellDone, Kansas City
Joe and Ann Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks
Michael Renner, Sauce magazine
Ron Ruggles, Nation's Restaurant News
Jeff Siegel, The Wine Curmudgeon
Andrew Stover,
Karen Tedesco, Family Style Food
Jenny Vergara, Making of a Foodie
Mike Wangbickler, Balzac Communications; Caveman Wines
Olivia Wilder, Olivia Wilder Times
Gretchen Neumann, VinoVerve Editor
Christian G.E.Schiller, schiller-wine

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  1. Great read! Another good place for wine in St. Louis is Sunset 44 Bistro They carry a selection of over 200 wines all chosen by a wine expert. I took my wife there last week for our anniversary and she loved it. Check them out next time you're in town. Would love to hear your thoughts!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. Will try it out next time I am in town.

  3. Top notch site!

    Here is an exclusive invite to the members only site where you can save up to 60% on premium wines:

    It's free to sign up so check it out!

  4. What did you really think about MO wine, i wasn't invited to the conference.

  5. @netting - I was not invited either, I paid, flew there from Washington and participated. Overall, these were all very interesting and promising wines, but as Todd Kliman put it, alternative wines. They have a hard time to compete with mainstream wines and I would never drink them outside of Missouri, but in Missouri they taste great.