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Hermann Hill Newsletter

Hermann Hill Vineyard & Inn

 March 2006 Newsletter

To our Guests & Friends,
Spring is in the air. That means it's time for Wurstfest. For many years Wurstfest marked the beginning of the tourist season in Hermann. Nowadays, however, it seems that tourists visit year round because there is always something happening here. Check the local calendar to see what's in store for 2006.

Speaking of events, three special programs will be presented by the Hermann Arts Council in April: Museum of Make Believe Art Show, April 1; SMSU Choir in Concert, April 2; and the Arianna String Quartet, April 28. For information about Hermann Arts Council events, visit

The sale of One-of-a-Kind Experiences to benefit Historic Hermann's restoration projects will continue through April. To see a detailed listing of the packages that are for sale (one includes a stay at Hermann Hill) and to make a purchase on-line, visit For more information about Historic Hermann Inc., visit The fundraiser will culminate with a reception featuring a live auction of additional items on April 29 at the Hermannhof Winery Festhalle* at 6 p.m.

(You will notice an asterisk (*) throughout the newsletter. This indicates a reference to Hermann Hill's Three-Mile Walk. Information about the walk is on our web site.)

Hermann is Missouri's wurst capital
"Hermann is a wine community. Everybody knows that, but we would also like to let people know, what's wine without some good German sausage to go with it. Sausage is as much a part of the German heritage as wine," said Bill Sloan, owner of Swiss Meat and Sausage Company. Again this year, the folks from Swiss will enter a variety of products in the upcoming 27th annual Wurstfest.

Sausage is big business in the Show-Me State. Missouri is the third largest producer of sausage in the United States, and the largest producer in the Midwest, according to Mike Sloan, president of Swiss Meat and Sausage Company. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are first and second, respectively. Currently there are 110 members in the Missouri Association of Meat Processors.

Wurstfest is a festival for sausage lovers of all ages.

To honor the industry, the Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce, along with sausage makers, wineries, breweries, restaurants, museums, and shops, is reaffirming Hermann as the "Sausage Capital of Missouri" during the two-day celebration of Hermann's 160-year history of sausage making and German culture on March 25 and 26.

During Wurstfest, a statewide sausage-making contest will be held at the Festhalle*. On display will be antique sausage-making and winemaking equipment. A panel of both celebrity and expert judges will be on hand to evaluate approximately 200 sausage entries. Radio personality Lynn Stewart of WIL-FM in St. Louis and the Kelly Twins (Margaret and Bridget) of "Twice Baked" on Charter Communications Channel 3 and "Food Talk" on The Big 550, KTRS-AM in St. Louis will be among the judges.

Judge Lyn
Lynn Stewart of WIL-FM in St. Louis will be a celebrity judge at this year's Wurstfest.

Visitors are invited to sample and purchase old-world delicacies such as bratwurst, leberwurst, schwartenmagen and sommer sausage at the Stone Hill Winery* pavilion and the Hermannhof Winery Festhalle* both days. Admission for sampling is $5. Other activities include the Brat Knot-Tying Contest, Wiener Dog Derby, dance performances by the Rhineland Wurstjaegers, and the naming of this year's inductee into the Wurst Hall of Fame. Several area shops and museums will feature craft demonstrations, and the seven area wineries will offer wine tastings and/or tours.

For information about Wurstfest and the sausage competition, call 800-932-8687, or check the web site at and click on Wurstfest on the calendar of events page. An entry form for both the amateur and professional sausage competitions is available on the web site.

Swiss bratwurst rides the rails
Swiss Meat and Sausage Company of rural Hermann provides Amtrak with 60,000 pounds of bratwurst annually for their passenger trains nationwide.

According to Mike Sloan, president of Swiss Meat and Sausage Company, this was unsolicited business. It happened as a result of the Food Channel Network filming the Wurstfest sausage competition in 2004. When the clip was aired, several Amtrak officials in Chicago saw it and requested samples of the Best of Show bratwurst entered by Swiss Meats. This resulted in an order for 1,200 pounds of the Best of Show Swiss Brand Bratwurst per month.

Not long after, Mike received another request for samples. This time it was from Amtrak's main office in Seattle. After sending bratwurst samples to the parent office on the West Coast, Amtrak upped its order to the current amount. The Best of Show Swiss Brand Bratwurst, two-time winner at Hermann's Wurstfest (2004 and 2005), is Amtrak's featured brat sandwich. How about that for being in the right place at the right time!

Samples of sausages made at the Swiss Meat and Sausage Company will be available at the Wurstfest. Currently, the company makes more than 40 varieties. Swiss Meat and Sausage Company is included in the Day Trip to the South that was featured in the August 2005 issue of the Hermann Hill newsletter, so why not stop by when you're in the area. For additional information about Swiss Meats, visit their web site at

Four Amtrak trains that travel between St. Louis and Kansas City make regular daily stops at Hermann. For information about traveling to Hermann by train call 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak's web site at You can read about the history of passenger trains in Missouri in the "All aboard for Hermann" section of our August 2005 newsletter.

Wurstjaegers keep traditions alive at Hermann festivals

Dancing at Hermann festivals is a tradition. Leading the way, particularly at Wurstfest, Maifest, and Octoberfest, is the popular dance group known as the Rhineland Wurstjaegers. Dressed in German-style costumes, this group has been performing at local and statewide events since 1948.

The dance group was started 58 years ago by Fritz and Betts Theissen of Rhineland, a neighboring town to the north of Hermann. The group was established for the purpose of participating in a national folk festival. Scouts from the International Folk Festival in St. Louis originally learned about the Wurstjaegers and invited them to dance in the festival. The dancers participated for three years until the festival was moved to the East Coast, making it too far for them to travel.

The Rhineland Wurstjaegers will perform traditional German sausage dances
during Wurstfest.

The background of the dancers dates to the Faschnacht celebration, the night before Lent began, that was held in Rhineland in the days when the townspeople did their own butchering. During the butchering, a large sausage was made specifically for the Wurstjaegers.

The men went from door to door and in song they asked for sausage. They hung them on a pole and sang and danced through the streets ending up at the town hall. There the women cooked the sausage and their favorite German dishes for a big community supper. After supper everyone danced the dances that were brought to the area from Germany. At midnight the festivities ceased because no dancing was permitted during Lent. The dancers also fasted during the Lenten season.

Today when the Wurstjaegers perform, the group begins with the song that the men sang as they collected sausage in years past. Accompanied by Marilyn Loehnig on the accordion, this number will be performed by the Wurstjaegers during Wurstfest on Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26, at 1 p.m. at the Stone Hill Winery* pavilion and 2:30 p.m. at the Hermannhof Winery Festhalle*. Three charter members still dance with the Wurstjaegers. Two groups of youngsters, a 4th grade group and the Junior Wurstjaegers (5th grade and older), are being taught traditional dances that they will perform at Maifest.

Valerie Pearce: Tender of the vines
When Val Pearce accepted her first job in Hermann, it was a temporary position that was to last just three months. Now, 25 years later, she is still tending the vines in Hermann vineyards.

Val Pearce
Val Pearce has begun winter pruning on the Norton grapevines at Hermann
Hill's vineyards.

A 1978 graduate of Michigan State University, Val earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture because at that time the school did not offer degrees in viticulture (the science of grape growing) and enology (the science of wine and wine making), which are her specialties. She claims to have chosen horticulture as her major because the man in charge of the department and his students seemed to be having so much fun. While it was hard work, Val said she loved it. Could the fact that Val was the sole female in the department have had anything to do with it?

After graduation, Val accepted a job in Hermann working for Dave Johnson, wine maker at Stone Hill Winery. He was a graduate student at Michigan State during Val's undergraduate years. She was hired to work in Stone Hill's vineyards. However, when a cellar position became available, Val was offered the job and was the winery's cellar master for 13 years. While she enjoyed the work, her first love was being outdoors. For awhile she was able to spend some time outside in the vineyards, but as the production at the winery increased, she was forced to stay inside more and more.

Val left Stone Hill to work at an organic farm and to care for the vines at Augusta Winery in Augusta, Mo. However, circumstances brought her back to Hermann about six years ago. She started working at Hermann Hill pruning the vines and about the same time returned to work at Stone Hill.

Currently Val works in her favorite place: outdoors. She describes herself as a vineyard technician. Her duties at Stone Hill include monitoring for diseases and insects, training new vineyards, caring for the vineyard in front of the winery, taking fruit samples prior to harvest, taking soil samples, and helping the vineyard crew whenever she is needed. She does similar work for Hermann Hill as part of what she calls a symbiotic relationship between the two businesses. (Currently Stone Hill produces a port wine that is made from Hermann Hill's Norton grapes.) She works full time for Stone Hill and spends about a day a week at the Hermann Hill vineyards from late winter until after the grape harvest pruning, combing and tying the vines, and keeping Hermann Hill's vineyards in good shape.

Val can't imagine anyone liking a job more than she does. "Where else could I get to be outside, get exercise, and listen to National Public Radio all day." She has learned to tell time by the sun and recognize clouds by the season. She claims, "This is the best time as spring comes and you smell the warm earth."

A new look for our Port-Chocolate Raspberry Sauce

Hermann Hill is proud to introduce the addition of a smaller bottle for our Port-Chocolate Raspberry Sauce. The reason for a smaller bottle resulted from inquiries from guests who are planning to stay in the Hermann Hill Village cottages and are concerned about missing out on the nightly ritual of ice cream and cookies.

After reviewing several options (like Terry stumbling through the woods among the cottages at 10 p.m. while delivering the treats), we decided that producing a smaller bottle that could be left in each cottage, along with ice cream in the freezer and fresh cookies ready for a few seconds in the microwave, was a better idea.

Port Chocolate
A new, smaller bottle of our Port-Chocolate Raspberry Sauce will be served at the Hermann Hill Village cottages and will be available for purchase at our gift shop.

We expect to offer the smaller bottles for sale in our gift shop and suspect they will be especially popular around Christmas as stocking stuffers.

Hermann Hill Village update
February has been an amazing month when you consider the amount of outside work that has been completed at Hermann Hill Village. All utilities were installed underground, the hillside was seeded with Missouri wildflowers and native grasses and protected from erosion with special straw mats.

Hermann Hill Village
Drilling wells for ground source heating and cooling for cottages
3, 4 and 5.

Decorative block walls now circle the hillside trees. Completed cottage work includes exterior stucco and stonework, gutters, all internal framing, and the first deck privacy fences and gates, drywall, taping, and painting on Cottage #2. The retaining wall at the final parking lot (for the wedding chapel) also is in place. Nine ground source wells were drilled for Cottages #3, #4, and #5 HVAC systems. We expect to open up reservations as soon as the stamped concrete floors are completed on Cottages #1 and #2.


To view more photos of our progress, click on the Hermann Hill Village page.

Hermann Hill Village

May newsletter: An overview of the Hermann Hill Village project.

Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn
711 Wein Street - P.O. Box 555 - Hermann, Missouri (MO) 65041
Phone: (573) 486-HILL (573-486-4455)  |  Fax: (573) 486-53733
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