We'd like to offer a toast to Missouri's wine industry, which recently had a grape harvest estimated at 20-25 percent higher than anticipated.
That's great news for a Show-Me State industry that adds $3.2 billion to the economy.
That's a reflection of the industry's successes, from the vineyards to the bottling and retailing. More and more, Missouri is gaining a reputation as having products that are among the best in the nation.
In a Nov. 6 Washington Post story by Dave McIntyre, the author wrote: "Missouri is best known for bold, spicy reds made from norton, but I'm drawn to the wildly flowery yet dry wines made with vignoles, a hybrid white grape. Some wineries also work with chardonel, another white hybrid that makes a nice full-bodied wine. A little history: Missouri's Augusta region, west of St. Louis, was the first in the nation to become an official AVA, in 1980. Stone Hill for norton, and Augusta Winery and Montelle Winery for vignoles are standouts. An insider tip has me hoping to visit Les Bourgeois Vineyards as an emerging star."
As Missouri Agriculture Director Chris Chinn said in a recent column, Missouri has a rich history in winemaking, with wineries almost as old as the state.
Since the 1840s, she said, Missouri wineries have been producing award-winning wines. Today, it has more than 125 wineries "and is proud to have Norton as its official state grape, which makes an excellent dry red wine."
The wine industry supports more than 28,000 jobs, she said, adding: "As grape harvest in Missouri wraps up, it's an excellent time to recognize the hard work being done year-round by the Missouri Wine and Grape Board to serve and promote our wineries. That mission is carried out by a team of dedicated people who are housed within the Missouri Department of Agriculture."
We congratulate everyone involved in our state's success in the wine industry. We also encourage Mid-Missourians to visit our wineries — often set in beautiful vistas where you can see the vines that produce the wines you're drinking.