One way to really enjoy Budget Travel is to tour your area wine trails. Some of the wine tastings are free and some charge $3.50 or so. If you decide to buy any wine, there is often no charge for the tasting. Some enterprising wineries, will give you a winery wine glass, with the winery logo imprinted on the glass as part of the tasting cost. So you get to sample 3 to 6 different wines and bring a wine glass home.
Recently I drove from Colorado Springs CO to St Louis MO down I-70 and back. About 60 miles east of St Louis, I went by a sign, "Hermann Wine Trail --->". Note to self. Stop there on the way home. After this weekend, I am going to need a drink.
Hermann is a town in MO that lies 160 miles east of Kansas City and 60 miles west of St Louis. Driving back from St Louis, it actually seemed more like 80 miles west of St Louis, but the town sits about 15 miles south of Exit #175 so 60 + 15 would be 75 and maybe I did not clock the trip odometer right at the edge of St Louis. No matter, if you are on I-70, look for Exit #175 and head south for 15 miles. Watch your speed. The road is narrow in places and if the sign says 35, that's probably the speed you should be doing.
There are seven wineries on the Hermann Wine Trail. And depending on when you go, there are wine events you can attend. On the second weekend of January, they have Wine 101. On the third weekend in February they have Chocolate Wine Trail. (The third weekend in February was closest to St Valentine's Day.) The last full weekend in July, they have the Very Berry Wine Trail and on the 3rd weekend in November they have the Holiday Fare Wine Trail.
To be honest, I did not personally visit all seven of the wineries on the trail. As I say, I was stopping there on my way home. I had been driving a 32' Class A RV with my spouse, her sister, her mother and father, their two dogs and my two dogs. My in-laws are in their eighties. We started out on Wednesday and there were five humans and four dogs. A 32' RV does not really have a lot of space. Can you picture it?
I almost forgot to mention that it rained every day but one. So not only we were we travelling in an RV, but I got to spend 24 hours a day in it to boot!!
I really wanted to get home badly, but I wanted to visit the wine trail so I compromised. I read about three of the vineyards, drove past two for a look and actually visited two. I got my picture taken next to some grape vines and have added that picture as my editor picture above and on the Budget Travel home page.
My first stop was to Stone Hill Winery, 573-486-2221, Stone Hill . This winery is Missouri's oldest and most awarded, is family owned and has historic cellars. It is listed on the National Historic Register and was built in 1869. The winery was shut down during Prohibition but the cellars remained active. Since the owners needed a way to earn a living, they used the cellars to grow mushrooms. On the winery tour, you can see the mold on the ceilings still there from back in the 1930's when the mushroom operation existed. Stone Hill is the second largest pre-Prohibition winery in the United States. Jim and Betty Held have been the owners since 1965 and their three children hold degrees in enology and viniculture, so there is family coming up the line to continue the wine making tradition.
I bought a bottle of Chardonel - $10.99. It took Bronze at the Florida State Fair. The Steinberg White was also nice taking Best of Class at Pacific Rim International in CA, but I did not buy a bottle. My in-laws, on the other hand, got a case of mixed wine. I figured I might be able to try some of their wine if they were still talking to me after this trip.
The second winery I stopped at right on the Missouri River, was Hermannhof Winery , 573-486-5959. Given the lack of time, we only did the tasting here and did not go on the tour.
At both wineries, we tried the Norton. This wine has a very deep red in the tasting glass and was loaded with fruit. It was a full bodied wine with a real strong smell of oak. It would be a wine to investigate further if I ever get back to that part of the world and can explore the region without four other adults and four dogs.
Also check out the other five on the trail:
Adam Puchta Winery, 573-486-5596,
Oak Glen, 573-486-5057,
Bias Winery, 573-834-5475,
Bommarito Winery 573-237-5158,
Robller Winery 573-237-3986.
For more money-saving ideas and "how-to" get more travel into your life, be sure to check my previous articles on the BellaOnline Budget Travel homepage and sign up for the Budget Travel weekly newsletter featuring the new travel articles that have been posted online.
Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
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Jim Fortune - the Bella Budget Travel Guy