The following trip will take you approximately 35 miles from Hermann – the farthest point on this tour is about five miles south of Mt. Sterling. Your will travel south of Hermann on Highway 19 through the town of Swiss, where you will want to stop at the Swiss Meat Company, onto The Gourd House and then to Drake, MO, home of The Drake Company. At Drake, you will pick up Highway 50 heading west toward Mt. Sterling. After you have spent a day out and about, exploring the area to the south of Hermann Hill Vineyard & Inn, you will be ready to return to enjoy a relaxing evening spent in the luxury of your first class accommodations.
note that the mileage between destinations is approximate. Some
points of interest along the route are open daily, while others
are open on weekends only and/or by appointment. It is a good
idea to check with each business before you go.
View a Google map of this trip.
(Leave Hermann on Highway 19 and travel
south for approximately 12 miles to Swiss. Swiss Meat & Sausage
Company is located on the east side of the highway in Swiss, and
the Silver Dollar is located on the west side of the highway.)
Swiss Meat & Sausage Company
For the "best of the wurst", a stop at Swiss Meat
& Sausage Company is a must. This
family-owned business has been operating in the tiny town of
Swiss since 1965. Its founders, Bill and the late Margie Sloan,
moved from St. Louis County, where Bill managed the meat
department of a grocery chain store, and purchased the Swiss
Country Store and Service Station from Margie's parents. As the
meat cutting and sausage production operations grew, the Sloans
needed more space. In 1969 the current building was constructed,
which has had several add-ons since then.
Bill is now semi-retired. His five children and several of their spouses run the business he founded. But, Bill continues to oversee the operation of the entire plant. He is still there to talk to
customers - a favorite pastime according to his son Mike. Through the years, the Sloan family has been honored for their contributions to the meat industry and they have consistently won national, state, and local awards for their products. Many are served in dining establishments throughout the Hermann area.
Meats carries an enormous inventory. There are 39 varieties of
link sausages alone, plus hams, bacons, whole smoked turkeys and
chickens, and exotic meats such as elk, ostrich, and buffalo.
Many fully cooked items and side dishes are packaged to 'heat
and eat'. And, don't forget to take home something for Fido. Pet
chews include smoked pig ears and smoked beef bones.
along a cooler or purchase one at Swiss Meats. If you don't have
enough room to carry it all, you can have your order shipped.
Meat & Sausage Company is located at 2056 Hwy. 19 South. Store
hours are 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, 8 to 3 Saturday, and
noon to 4 Sunday. Winter hours may differ. For information call
800-793-SWISS, or visit the web site at www.swissmeats.com.
The Silver Dollar
across the road from the Swiss Meat and Sausage Co. is a country
eatery that is worth a visit.
the early 1970s by Jim Sloan, brother of Bill of Swiss Meats, the
Silver Dollar was built as a tavern for the locals. A limited menu
was offered, and a liquor store operated from an area adjacent to
the tavern that now serves as Silver Dollar's kitchen. The Silver
Dollar was a place to have a burger and beer and exchange gossip,
and it remains so today.
years ago, Jack Stoyanov purchased the Silver Dollar. He still
considers it a local hangout because nearly 90 percent of his
business comes from area residents. "I'm the little tavern in wine
country where the locals hang out," he explained. He considers the
tavern unique because of its setting in wine country, and it
features a wine list of local wines that are sold by the glass or
worked in the food and beverage industry for about 30 years. He is
a meat cutter by trade, and claims he grew up in an Italian meat
market in St. Louis. He has worked at major restaurants (Tony's in
St. Louis among them), country clubs and hotels, mostly on the
West Coast. He has brought his culinary expertise to the Silver
Dollar, and his mission is simply stated. "We feature a simple
menu done right, serving food worth driving for." Mission
accomplished, according to his many repeat customers.
menu features the famous Silver Dollar burgers in addition to
daily plate lunch specials. "On weekends we fire up the outdoor
grill and feature aged, hand-cut steaks and chops grilled on a
charcoal fire. BBQ ribs are a favorite along with roasted chicken
and grilled seafood," he said. Also on the menu are salads,
appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, full dinners, homemade
desserts, and kid's meals. This is a family-friendly facility.
interior of the tavern has changed little since it was first
built. Jack has given it a new coat of paint and fixed it up in a
few places, and put red and white checked oilcloth covers on all
the tables, but you still feel like you are walking back in time
as you enter the establishment. An old, all-country jukebox
features country-western favorites and adds to the tavern's charm.
the winter months, the Silver Dollar hosts washer leagues Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday nights. Wednesday night is open night so
anyone can join in the fun. Jack proudly announced that the Silver
Dollar teams were the league winners for 2006.
Silver Dollar is open seven days a week. Summer kitchen hours are
from 11-4 on Sunday, 11-8 Monday through Thursday, and 11-9 Friday
and Saturday. Drinks are served until a little later in the
evening. Carry-outs are available. The
Silver Dollar is located on Highway 19 about 12 miles south of
Hermann. For information, or to book a private party or meeting,
(Continue south on Highway 19 for
approximately 2 ½ miles to Steinbeck Rd. Watch for a large sign
for The Gourd House. Turn east on Steinbeck Rd. and travel 1
mile to The Gourd House.)
The Gourd House
Don't give up as you wind along this country
road. You'll feel like you're going to end up in the middle of
nowhere, but that's part of the experience of visiting this
Joyce and Don Riedel converted 42 acres of wilderness into lush gardens and a bird sanctuary when they moved from St. Louis in 1990. When they needed something to fill up the garden, they decided to plant gourds. They had no idea just how big the gourds would grow, but they soon found out. Among the crop were huge bushel gourds. At first the Riedels made a few birdhouses, "But then I saw the possibilities and that opened up my mind," said Joyce. The idea
of The Gourd House came to Joyce one day while she sat under an
arbor covered with gourds. She claims she felt like she was in a
gourd house. That's all it took for the Riedels to create the
business that they both love.
items from gourds is no easy task. In fact, it takes about a
year and a half from the time a gourd is planted to the time it
is crafted and available for sale. After they are planted,
gourds grow until frost kills the vine. The gourds are then cut
from the vine and taken indoors to dry. When they are dry, the
gourds are scraped clean with knives and stainless steel wool.
Joyce traces a design onto the gourd and uses a special wood
burner to outline the pattern. Don makes the cuttings, which can
be anything from a hole in a birdhouse or a top for a covered
bowl, to a handle for a basket or an intricate design. The
painting is left up to Joyce who said, "When I started painting
on the gourds, they became my canvas."
Riedels make all sorts of things from gourds-handbags, baskets,
bowls, lamps, jewelry, decorations, and the list goes on. No two
items are alike because no two gourds are alike. Joyce even
makes glycerin soap from loofah grown on the property.
addition to The Gourd House, the property also features The Wood
Shed, where metal artist George Beamon's work is on display.
George, a member of the Artists of Wine Country, creates designs
in steel, brass, copper and glass. Also displayed is country
furniture made by Don. Woodworking is one of his hobbies. He
said, "I was born and raised with a hammer in my hand."
Gourd House is located at 2090 Steinbeck Rd. It is open 10 to 5
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from May until Thanksgiving. But,
the Riedels welcome visitors anytime by appointment. For
information call 573-437-3929, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Take Steinbeck Rd. West to Highway 19 and
turn south. Travel approximately 2 ½ miles to Drake-but don't
blink or you'll miss it. The Drake Company is at the
intersection of Highways 19 and 50.)
The Drake Company
1988, Ed Langenberg and Jim Froesel rescued this 1878 building
that has been home to The Drake Company since 1992. For Ed, it's
home, again. He was raised at Drake in the house across the road
from his family's former mercantile store.
Langenberg, Ed's grandfather, had great visions for the store
and the town in the early 1900s. Not only did he stock the basic
necessities, he operated the feed mill that still stands across
the road and ran the Drake post office inside the store. He also
owned much of the farmland that surrounds the buildings.
Louis died in 1925, Ed's father, Edwin, took over. Following in
his father's footsteps, Edwin too was a visionary. He maintained
a huge inventory of goods, converted the upstairs of the store
into a dormitory for farm hands, added a tavern, operated a
service station with three pumps, housed the telephone company,
and provided a terminal for the local bus company. It was a busy
place, according to Ed. Edwin died in 1952. His widow tried to
run the store but it was too much for her to handle. She
eventually she sold it, but kept the house and farm.
years the building slowly deteriorated, and when Ed made trips
from St. Louis to check on the farm he was saddened by what he
saw. Then, in 1988, the building went up for sale. That's when
he and Jim leaped at the opportunity to save it. The result is a
beautifully restored landmark filled with fine antiques and
collectibles acquired by both men.
when Jim was asked how he knew what to buy he replied, "Anything
I like that fits in the car." Many carloads of "things" have
found their way to the store. Ed also is an avid collector.
"I've enjoyed and been collecting for a long time. I've kept
much of what was in the store before it was sold in 1951," he
explained. The original display cases are still in use and old
photos are scattered throughout the store. Ed loves to tell
stories about the "old days" at Drake.
store is located at 2693 Highway 19 in Drake. It is open Friday
and Saturday from 10 to 5 or when the flags are flying.
Appointments can be arranged by calling 573-437-3133.
(At Drake, turn west onto U.S. 50. Travel
approximately 1½ miles to Phoenix Winery. The driveway is on the
south side of 50.)
The Phoenix Winery
Guether Heeb, owner of Phoenix Winery, said he
just wanted to "piddle with the vineyard" when he established
the winery in 2000. His intention was to grow grapes only. But,
one thing led to another, and now he is making wine from the
nine French hybrid grape varieties he grows on approximately 10
acres. The driveway leading to the tasting room meanders through
is no stranger to wine and wine making. He was born and raised at
a 200-year-old winery along the Rhine River in Germany. He
explained that the German way of life calls for the oldest child
to get the farm and the youngest to get the education. Being the
youngest, his parents made him get a degree in viticulture, and he
became an environmental engineer.
Guenther and his American-born wife moved from Germany to the United States 35 years ago so the children could be near their grandparents in St. Louis. As an engineer, the English language presented a bit of a problem for Guenther so he turned to wine making.
distinctive German accent he said, "I like playing with grapes."
He does a lot of experimenting with the vines and has a test
plot just outside his front door. Guenther describes his as a
small, boutique winery where he tries to maintain the German
style of wine making. "I cannot compete with the big boys, so I
compete by being unique." That uniqueness comes from the methods
he uses in raising and harvesting his grapes and the techniques
he applies to the wine production.
2,000 gallons of Phoenix Winery's wines are sold at the winery.
Guenther does not sell wholesale. "If we sell out, we close the
doors and put out the sign saying 'Gone Fishing'," he said.
"We're a Mom and pop operation and we don't want to be big." Nor
does he choose to enter wine competitions. Guenther's theory is
if you like the wine, you drink it. It doesn't have to have a
with the winery, Guenther operates the Edelweiss Dining Club, a
private membership-only eating club on the premises. He is the
chef, along with young Aaron Trenshaw, Guenther's apprentice.
Aaron's main interest is cooking, but once he started working at
the winery and saw how wines and foods could be paired, he
showed interest in learning about the vineyards as well. In
fact, Aaron has started a vineyard of his own with cuttings from
Guenther's vines. Guenther hopes that some day Aaron will take
over the winery operation.
Phoenix Winery is located at 1840 Hwy. 50. It is open year round
from 9 to dusk Monday through Saturday. Hours begin at 11 on
Sunday. To contact the winery, call 573-437-6278, or e-mail
Guenther at Gheeb@fidnet.com.
You can visit the winery's web site at www.phoenixwinery.com.
(Continue west on Hwy. 50 about 10 miles
to Mt. Sterling. Take Hwy. A south for approximately 4.6 miles
to Brick Church Rd. Turn east on Brick Church Rd. and travel 1
mile to the Wenwood Farm Winery.)
Wenwood Farm Winery
Got wine? That's the question often asked at
Wenwood Farm Winery, a Century Farm that has been in the Neese
family for four generations. Current owners, Laura Neese and her
husband, Tom Kalb, live in the old farmhouse on the 400-acre
farm. "It's Grandma's house to me," said Laura, who has many
memories of visiting her grandparents at the farm.
bucolic setting for the winery is a former dairy farm that
produced award-winning Guernsey cattle. When Laura and Tom took
it over nearly 10 years ago, they converted the calf barn into a
tasting room, the dairy barn into the wine production area, and
the bull barn into the event pavilion. Many items used to
decorate the tasting room-tools, photographs, and old deeds-were
found in old sheds on the property. "They were a good old German
family. They never threw anything away. I pooh poohed it, but
they came in handy," Laura said. There is a lot of history here.
Winemaking is something Tom has been interested in since he was 14 years old. Raised in Wisconsin, he worked at a fruit and berry winery there for 10 years. "That's where he gained an affinity for wine making," Laura explained. Tom got additional experience working at Stone Hill Winery and Bias Winery when the couple moved to Missouri in the early 1990s. Laura worked several years at Hermannhof Winery.
couple does not maintain vineyards at this time. They purchase
grapes locally for their wines. Production began in 2001. Laura
mentioned that milk production and wine making are similar in
several ways. Everything must be kept very clean and both
require lots of stainless steel tanks. In fact, Laura and Tom
use some of the old milk chillers for the cold stabilization
process in making their wines.
large part of the business at Wenwood Farm Winery involves
special events. The open-air pavilion is used most Saturday
nights during the summer months. In winter, they move into the
sales and tasting room. Summer concerts feature musicians,
mostly from the Jefferson City area, who play a wide variety of
music including bluegrass, jazz, folk, blues, and even some
Cajun. Winter events include a hayride, a nouveau dinner and
Christmas gatherings. A special menu is available during every
event. Laura uses Wenwood Farm wines in many of the recipes that
are served. Swiss Meat Company sausages and cheeses are
available for sale anytime, as are wine and soft drinks. A
listing of events can be seen on the winery's web site at www.wenwoodfarmwinery.com. Or, you may contact the
winery direct by calling 573-437-3443.
winery is located at 1132 Brick Church Rd. It is open year
round. Summer hours (during Daylight Savings Time) are from 10
to 6 Monday through Thursday, 10 to sunset Friday and Saturday,
and 11 to 6 on Sunday. Winter hours are 10 to 5 Monday through
Saturday and 11 to 5 on Sunday.