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I am a member of the Temecula (California) Wine Review Council, and at a recent council tasting of Missouri wines, I was surprised to learn that the first officially recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) was Augusta, Missouri, dating back to 1980. Located just west of St. Louis, along the Missouri River, August AVA has a silt-loam soil. South of the river, Hermann AVA and Ozark Highlands AVA designations followed. Herman and Ozark Highlands are also a part of the Ozark Mountain AVA (consisting of vineyards in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma).
Missouri has a long history of winemaking, which began in the mid-1800s when German and Italian immigrants moved into the state and started growing wine grapes. In the freat French wine blight of the late 1800s, when France lost many of its vineyards to the phylloxera louse, Missouri was able to help the French wine industry recover by sending them phylloxera resistant American rootstock, on which they could graft French grape cuttings. Many grapes grown today in Missouri are hybrids, bred to withstand a cooler climate.
The wine council tasted six wines from five Missouri wineries. We were quite impressed with their taste and quality.