One of the things I love about St. Louis is how many great weekend getaways are within a quick drive. You can get to Chicago or Louisville or Nashville in just a short drive. Or you can stick closer and explore the beauty of Missouri. Biking to wine country along the Katy Trail has been a bucket list item for me for ages. And fall is the best time to do it!
Missouri has several different spots to explore wine country. You can take a drive down to St. Genevieve or hop on the train to Herman, we opted to get a little workout in without wine drinking and ride part of the Katy Trail to Augusta. The Katy Trail stretches 240 miles across Missouri and is a beautiful way to see the Show-Me state. We decided to take it easy since we planned on spending several hours at the wineries. (Wine + biking can lead to some cuts and scrapes FYI). So here is our advice for the perfect day trip to the wineries.
We started in Defiance which is just about 40 minutes from St. Louis. We brought our bikes but there's a great place - Katy Bike Rental - where you can rent bikes, pick up gear or chat up the helpful employees about your trip. Our route from Defiance to Augusta was about 8 miles, a little under 45 minute one way. The trail is beautiful. The crunch of the leaves under your wheels, the views of the Missouri River and fields. Its the perfect way to take in the beauty of the area. Plus the trail is flat and easy to ride. On the way to Augusta, there's a winery a few miles in - Sugar Creek Winery. You can stop there, but decided to keep going.
Along the route is also Klondike Park. It's a gorgeous park with hiking, biking and fishing. We stopped to take in the views of the river and grab a drink of water. The park is for another visit. We finally turned the corner and spotted the sign welcoming us to Augusta. Our booties were ready to hop off our bikes and ready for wine.
Our first stop was Augusta Winery. Heads up, the town is HILLY. So if you are biking, be prepared to hoof it, or hop off your bike and walk up the hills. For $5 at Augusta, we got a tasting of five wines. I am not a fan of sweet wine which for the longest time made me think I couldn't drink Missouri wine because so many of them are very very sweet. But there are a lot of great dry options. We tried some white and some red, my favorite red was the Norton, a full bodied red with berry notes. But given we were still a bit toasty from the bike ride, we opted to get a full glass of the Chardonel. It was crisp and light and perfect for sipping on the outdoor patio.
Next stop, we headed up another very steep hill to Holy Grail Winery. It's housed in an adorable little shed like building with a shaded garden area. This was by far the most hospitable stop - mainly because it wasn't crowded. The husband and wife team who own the winery walk us through their wines and their background. They even offered us some of their homemade sausage and venison to try. We sampled all reds, some heavy, some light, ended with a raspberry chocolate port. They were all delicious. Plus they sell chocolates that they import from Ireland. The smell inside the shop was intoxicating. We loved the Pinot Noir and purchased a bottle. The tasting was 5 wines for $5, but that charge is waved if you purchase a bottle. Across the street were a couple of darling antique shops.
Third stop was Mount Pleasant Winery. This is the biggest and most popular winery in Augusta and was packed on a Saturday afternoon. There as a wedding, a party and a live band, so the lines were a bit long, plus the tasting room was a bit crowded so I didn't feel we got a good description of the wines we were trying. We loved the Brut Imperial, a dry sparkling wine. After our tasting ($10 for 4, you get to keep the glass) we purchased a bottle of the Brut and headed to the patio. There's a restaurant onsite and we purchased a cheese and sausage plate and listened to the live band. It was a fun crowd on a beautiful day.
Our final stop was Augusta Brew Haus. Located on a hill overlooking the Katy Trail, they too had live music. We got a flight, sampling the blonde, IPA, Oktoberfest and Hefeweizen. The beers were tasty but we could tell if we had anymore we wouldn't be able to make that 8 mile ride back. We got back on our bikes and hit the trail. The ride back was quicker than the ride there, I think because we were pedaling quickly to get it over with. The soreness had set in and the wine only helped so much.
Back in Defiance if you're ready to keep drinking there are several other spots, including the Yellow Farmhouse Vineyard and Winery and Chandler Hill. Overall it's the perfect spot to spend a day that feels like a mini-vacation. Check out the little video we made of the day! I'd love to know, what's your favorite Missouri winery?
Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day life of a TV news reporter. I have a love for food, traveling and all things St. Louis. This is a place for me to write about my passions.