It was a gorgeous day for a wine trail! The weather was perfect, sunny with low humidity and not too hot. The Meramec River Wine Trail couldn’t have been scheduled for a more perfect day in June. The fact that I got to document it was just icing on the cake. We decided on our route for the day based on where we wanted to start and end. The trail was scheduled from 12 pm – 5 pm and included 6 different wineries. The theme for this weekend was Rose’ All Day, and as you might have guessed, all the wines were… yep Rose’, and each winery had different food pairings. I should preface this by saying I am by no means a wine connoisseur, but I love trying new things plus a great adventure, and this had the promise of both!
We started the trail at Belmont Vineyards in Leasburg, Missouri. The winery sits on top of a hill and overlooks the vineyard giving you beautiful views of the rolling hills. Just off of I-44 and Route 66, Belmont has a beautiful indoor and outdoor venue for events and parties. We were served a delicious tasting Strawberry Glazed Pork Tenderloin with walnut pesto on avocado crostini paired with Dry Rosé. The pork was very tender, and the wine had hints of strawberry. One of the owners, Jeff Voss, chatted with us and told us a fun fact about Belmont Vineyards; Belmont is actually his middle name! He also told us that the grapes used in the wine were tiny little grapes, and he has to fight the birds for them every year. We took a moment to soak in the view and then hopped into the car to head to our next stop.
About 30 miles from Belmont Vineyards, off of Highway 19, is Red Moose Vineyard. The driveway to the vineyard is through the woods, and as you turn the final corner, you are met with the most stunning views. The building itself is impressive, and the vineyard is so picturesque. There is even a lake with a dock that you can sit on and enjoy your wine; relaxing and peaceful describes it to a tee. According to their website, Red Moose was established in 2006 by two brothers, whose high school nicknames were Red and Moose. Our pairing was Creamy Chicken Salad Bites with Sweet Rosé. The grapes were grown on the property, and the fermentation is off the skins. Described as a “deliciously sweet Chambourcin Rose’ with mouth-watering flavors of juicy wild berries in every sip. A perfect picnic wine to serve chilled from the cooler.” The chicken salad was delicious and light, not too heavy, perfect for a picnic. Knowing that we had a time limit to make all the stops on the trail didn’t leave us a lot of time to stay, but when you visit Red Moose, you will want to spend the day soaking in the peace, quiet, and beauty.
Off of Highway 8 outside of Steelville, Missouri, our next stop was Peaceful Bend Winery. Peaceful Bend began life in the 1940s as a livestock farm owned by gentleman farmer & St. Louis doctor Axel Arneson. After discovering a love of wine and grape growing in the early sixties, Axel and his wife decided to plant a small vineyard at Peaceful Bend in 1965. By 1970 the Arneson’s had decided to open a public winery and realized their dream to open to the public by 1972. From 1972 – 1990 the winery was a family affair and a weekend retreat for the Arneson family.” The current owners, Clyde and Katie, purchased the vineyard in 1998. Again, the location of the Winery is perfect. Make sure you get a table off the back porch for the best views. The pairing at Peaceful Bend was a Strawberry Salsa Crostinis with Huzzah Valley Rosé. The salsa had just the right blend of spicy and sweet, plus it really brought out the flavor of the wine. Katie chatted with us a bit and told us that the fisherman called that bend in the Meramec River the Peaceful Bend, hence the winery’s name.
Our fourth stop was on the main street in St. James, Missouri. Just A Taste is an unforgettable experience. Their website describes the venue as “three gorgeous event spaces; Top Shelf, The Tasting Room, and the Jefferson Cellar.” You will want to see it for yourself; exposed brick, dark wood accents, and such a fun vibe when you walk in the door. We were welcomed by Casey, one of the owners, and sat at the bar. The pairing was Smoked Short Rib Tostada topped with lime-cabbage slaw paired with Eagles’ Landing 2020 From Rosati With Love Rosé. Did you know that Eagles’ Landing’s origin began with two friends, an Italian and German lineage, both having an eagle in their family crest! The pairing was excellent, as always.
The next to last stop on the wine trail was also in St. James, Missouri. St. James Winery, located just off I-44, is described according to their website as a family-owned, internationally awarded winery in Missouri’s Ozark Highlands wine country that opened in 1970. Two lovely ladies behind the counter greeted us. As they served our pairing of Lemon Pepper Butter Shrimp with Lemon-Garlic Horseradish Sauce paired with Sparkling Rosé, the ladies shared fun stories about the winery, prohibition, and concord grapes. We also found out that the sign out front of St James Winery was Pat’s personal project! She even had the grapes in the logo made specifically for the sign.
We ended the Meramec River Wine trail at one of our favorite places, Meramec Vineyard Winery. Joe & Michelle Boulware purchased the winery in 2018 and have really given it a “rebirth,” as they call it on their website. Meramec Vineyard Winery is a casual, family-friendly venue that is warm and welcoming. Their pairing for the event was a fried Plantain Chip, Black Bean Hummus, Pickled Red Onion, Queso Fresco paired with Sweet Cat Sangria. Michelle shared with us that the Sweet Cat wine sampled on the trail this weekend was their first wine to be used for sangria in 2018! As I mentioned, Meramec Vineyard is one of our favorite places to eat, and we were not disappointed with the pairing.
The Meramec River Wine Trail was an enjoyable afternoon adventure. I highly recommend getting your tickets early for the next event. There are two more planned for this year, and I do know that they sell out quickly!