Enjoy a wine region getaway without the expensive price tag in Augusta, Missouri
By Grace Condon
Augusta, Missouri has become a premier destination for oenophiles. Though the region already has a well-established history of creating rich wines – after all, it is where the wine industry began in the 19th century – it hasn’t always been known for attracting groups of tourists.
Augusta Wine Country Growth
Over the past several years, investment in the town by the Hoffman Family of Companies has created buzz around Augusta as it transforms into one of the country’s go-to wine destinations. Located 45 miles west of St. Louis, Augusta has a high concentration of wineries in a small area. The town’s free wine trolley service helps visitors get a taste of a wide variety of wines even in a short trip or a weekend. Also, travelers get more bang for their buck than expensive wine regions like Napa Valley.
The fun stretches beyond touring the vineyards. The community’s old-time charm is organic and inimitable — alive with weekly and annual gatherings celebrating arts, culture and history. Gallery Augusta is the town’s space for sharing work of American artists. And many of the town’s cafés and coffee shops offer local farm-fresh ingredients.
How the sweet little farm town made its way onto the radar as a go-to destination for groups is the work of Missouri native David Hoffman who saw the area’s potential to attract travelers. His company invested millions of dollars in Augusta property: buying and renovating six vineyards, four wineries, a restaurant and coffee shop, a clothing boutique and Miss Augusta — a sightseeing yacht that offers wine and cruises on the Missouri River.
Wineries in Augusta Missouri
Hoffman’s wineries, Augusta Winery, Balducci Vineyards, Montelle Winery, and Mount Pleasant Estates, are among some of the town’s most popular. The Augusta Area Trolley travels between the wineries, Klondike Park and Augusta Emporium, a classic general store filled with curated décor, gifts and food. Trolleys are in rotation every 30 minutes, require no reservation and are completely free.
For an even deeper dive into this wine region’s history, groups can book a tour through century-old, hand-carved cellars. A new appreciation may take root during this educational tour, especially for the hand-pruned vines and the wine makers who wait five years for their harvest of grapes to mature before converting them to wine.
Augusta Winery offers award-winning wines ranging from sweet to dry and locally produced cheese and sausage. These can be enjoyed on the outdoor wine terrace or in the Wine & Beer Garden — complete with a fountain and a 10-foot grape arbor.
Balducci Vineyards has received the Missourian’s Readers’ Choice Award for the best winery for 17 years straight. It has a whimsical setting of rolling hills that can be enjoyed seven days a week from spring to fall. Balducci Vineyards also offers an assortment of snacks that pair with the wines as well as picnic and dining areas. The winery hosts weekly events like open mic night, live music performances and a painting class at sunset.
Atop Osage Ridge sits Montelle Winery. From its outdoor terrace you can see the sweeping Missouri landscape and can catch a breathtaking sunset. Stop by Klondike Café for charcuterie boards, mouthwatering starters and a full menu of pizza, wraps and salads.
Mount Pleasant Estates has been producing wine for over a century. The winery honors its history in its design and décor, keeping with the vintage style of the region’s first winemakers.
Augusta Harvest Festival in Missouri
Every September the annual Augusta Harvest Festival kicks off with Swingin’ in the Vines, an event at Honey Bee Vineyard. Attendees can ride on a vintage hay wagon for a tour of the private estate, then collect a picnic basket packed with a gourmet picnic for two complete with a bottle of wine. The picnic is followed by live music and dancing amongst beautiful scenery — carefully tended gardens, rolling farmland and a 200-year-old tulip tree.
The festival continues with events throughout the weekend: a pie eating contest, a parade, games for kids and live music. Augusta Harvest Festival concludes with the Fruit of the Harvest Dinner at Noboleis Vineyards, a five-course meal with wine pairings.