The word “Rhineland” likely calls to mind the famed Rhine River in Western Europe. But you don’t need to travel abroad for this experience; you can enjoy the Rhineland right here at home, in Missouri. The Missouri Rhineland is a region renowned for its lush vineyards, rich history, and scenic river views.
For example, in the heart of this fertile land you’ll find the charming small town of Augusta, which has the distinction of being the first designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) — predating California’s better-known Napa Valley. In fact, during the Civil War, Missouri ranked as the nation’s top wine-producing state. Thanks to businessmen like David Hoffmann, who grew up just across the river from Augusta, this Midwestern wine-growing region is returning to its earlier exalted status and on its way to becoming a premier visitor destination.
From wine-tasting tours to local eateries and more, below is an in-depth look at the must-visit spots that make the Missouri Rhineland a perfect getaway for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Fine Wines for Almost a Century
It may surprise you to learn that Missouri has been producing fine wine since the 1830s. In fact, the Missouri Rhineland earned its name due to its resemblance to Germany’s Rhine River Valley, and celebrates its cultural heritage through traditions that include its award-winning wines.
In addition to its excellent viticulture, the Rhineland is known for its museums. The town of Hermann invites visitors to “Rhine and Shine” in this picturesque village filled with historic sites and antique shops. The Hermann Farm Museum, for instance, is a step into the past on 200 acres once occupied by wine pioneer George Husmann. You can even take a wagon tour or carriage ride. Those Shire draft horses sure are big!
A Taste of History
Of course, fine wine pairs well with fine food, and the Missouri Rhineland does not disappoint. The Corner Restaurant offers massive portions of hearty American fare, along with superior service. Hermann Wurst Haus is, as you’d suspect by its name and for this region, a market dedicated to German specialties such as smoked meats and cheeses.
Vintage 1847 Restaurant serves delectable German food, and Tin Mill Brewery has the tastiest pretzels and knackwurst appetizers to pair with that good German brew. We hear the sweet potato fries are pretty yummy, too.
And if you want to live like the locals, visit Sharp’s Corner Tavern. It’s an old school bar where the locals hang out. It’s casual, quick, and you’re going to hear some stories..
Nature Calling …
But no matter how much we love wining and dining, being outdoors in a location as beautiful and full of history as the Missouri Rhineland is also a given. Head to the Grand Bluffs Conservation Area, a 236-acre preserve featuring dolomite bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. Canada geese have been known to nest here, and the unusual features and flora earned it protected status from the Missouri Conservation Department.
It’s open pretty much all the time (4 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day) for your enjoyment. You can hike, bird-watch, camp (special use permit required), and hunt (in season with permits).
However, you may simply want to relax and enjoy nature in all her glory, here in the hidden gem that is the Missouri Rhineland.