The wineries in and around the historic German community of Hermann are the heart and soul of Missouri Wine Country, accounting for about a third of the state's total production. Their story is rooted in a fascinating chapter of America's winemaking history.
In 1837 a band of German settlers from Philadelphia arrived at the site of their new colony expecting a land of milk and honey. Instead, they stepped off the last steamboat of the season into a howling wilderness. Inspired by the tangles of wild vines that covered the craggy hillsides, the resourceful Germans planted grapes and began making wine.
Town fathers nurtured the infant wine industry by selling "grape lots," vacant city lots a settler could buy or $50, interest free, over a five-year period. The only condition was that the lot had to be planted in grapes.
A total of 600 grape lots eventually were sold-the entire town was growing grapes, building wine cellars and making wine. Home wine cellars were common, and wine halls were a favorite Sunday gathering place where families socialized after church.
The quality of the wines improved dramatically in the 1840s, thanks to the introduction of the first cultivated grape varieties Isabella, Virginia Seedling, Catawba and Delaware and the work of George Husmann, a self-taught scientiest whose father had purchased a Hermann lot while the family was still living in Germany. Husmann studied soil types and crossed wild and cultivated grapes to create hybrids that could tolerate Missouri's hot, humid summers and freezing winters. Some of his vines still thrive today at OakGlenn Winery.
Husmann's research proved invaluable in the 1860s when the vineyards of southern France were devastated by phylloxera, a bug blight spread by aphids. Missouri grape growers shipped 17 carloads of phylloxera-resistant root stock to France. In commemoration of the event, two statutes were erected in Monpellier, France. One depicts a young woman cradling an old woman in her arms-the New World saving the Old World. Husmann, who was recognized by the French government, later moved from Hermann to California, where he became a founding father of the Napa Valley wine industry.
Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. Central Time
Webinar Hosted by Small Business Empowerment Center
Thursday, Dec 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. Central Time
Virtual - Zoom link will be provided
Wednesday, Dec 8, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. Central Time
AARP Missouri Facebook and YouTube Channel
JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR