It’s our 28th anniversary here at Blumenhof Winery, as good a time as any to take a look back–and a better time to look forward.
In the year we opened, 1987, there were a handful of wineries in Missouri. At the time, Blumenhof was just the third winery along this Weldon Spring-to-Marthasville stretch of Highway 94, a.k.a. “Missouri’s Wine Road.” The first one, of course, was the historic Mount Pleasant Winery, which was established by George Muench in 1859, closed as a result of Prohibition in 1920, and reopened under the ownership of Lucian Dressel in the late 1960s. The second, Montelle Winery, was started by Clayton Byers in a farmhouse on Augusta Bottom Road in the early 1970s. A few years later, and seven miles farther west, Blumenhof was born. And that, dear reader, was the sum and substance of the “Missouri Wine Industry” around here 28 years ago.
In those days, wineries were simple places. Some might say boring. They were places where wine was made and sold. That’s all there was to it. Wine was the be-all and the end-all. All of us were trying, against difficult conditions and daunting odds, to make great wine from grapes grown in local vineyards. We were passionate. We were committed. And most people we knew outside the industry thought we were completely crazy.
Looking back, it seems pretty certain that we were out of our minds–or just plain naive. Eventually, clever business types saw things differently. Like, really, making locally-grown wine? This ain’t exactly California, ya know. Forget about making wine. What about making some money? Why buy land for grapevines that will only bring stress and struggle? Why invest in specialized, expensive equipment that has limited use and no resale value? There has to be an easier way to make a buck.
These days, the entrepreneurs are having a field day in Missouri Wine Country. Instead of planting vines, they plant ideas and visions. It’s really all about the show–and if they do plant a few vines, it will be strictly for show. Well, this is the Show-Me State, isn’t it? Meanwhile, the wine can come from anywhere. There are plenty of places that will make the wine for you, bottled and ready to sell with your own label on it. No muss, no fuss, and, as con artists always like to point out, it’s all perfectly legal. Local wine? Missouri-grown wine? Too risky, too much work, and anyway, who cares? People just want to get drunk. They’re not going to read the fine print on a label. Let the dreamers make local wine.
Here at Blumenhof, we’re still living the dream. Or we’re dreaming the life. You decide. And the truth is, when you choose Blumenhof–or, we hasten to add, one of the dwindling number of other dedicated local wine producers–you are deciding to make a crucial investment in Dreamland. We can only continue doing what we love with your support.