The following is a brief history of the evolution of the local Missouri wine industry and its impact on wine making in in this state. During your vacation at Hermann Hill Vineyard & Inn, you will have ample opportunity to experience the best of Missouri's wine country.
Grape growing and wine making in Hermann, MO and the surrounding countryside have been ongoing since the arrival of the first German settlers in the early 1800s. Hermann has been in the forefront of the Missouri wine industry since 1837, a year after the town was founded.
The site for the community was chosen because of its close resemblance to the Rhineland in Germany. Its poor soil and hilly terrain were not conducive to farming, but wild grapevines grew in abundance. Since viticulture was promising, the early settlers purchased tracts of land with the agreement that they be planted as vineyards. At one time, much of the community was covered in grapevines.
Within 10 years of Hermann's founding, there were more than 60 family wineries in the community. When the first grape harvest festival was held in 1848, the town's wineries produced approximately 10,000 gallons of wine. In less than a decade, Hermann's production grew tenfold. Hermann had a major impact on wine making in Missouri, and, by 1879, the state produced nearly two million gallons of wine per year. By the turn of the century, it was the second largest wine producing state in the United States.
The industry thrived until the Volstead Act was enacted in 1919. All of the vineyards had to be destroyed, along with any equipment related to wine making. But, in 1965, when Jim and Betty Held purchased Stone Hill Winery, the wine industry in Missouri was reborn.
Today, there are seven award-winning wineries within a 15-mile radius of Hermann and more than 40 throughout the state. Early in 2005, the seven local wineries formed the Hermann Vintners’ Association. Together, they promote the Hermann Wine Trail and sponsor special events throughout the year. A review of the area wineries is available by clicking on the individual links below.
Although wine making was the major industry in the early days of Hermann, breweries began to spring up as well. Kropp's Brewery was established in 1848 in the building that currently houses Hermannhof Winery. It operated successfully until the onset of Prohibition closed its doors. Beer making resumed in the Hermann area in the late 1990s.
Three microbreweries have opened in the Hermann area in recent years. Each is open to visitors.