Stone Hill Winery

Sunday afternoon, as part of our weekend getaway trip to Hermann, Missouri, Harland and I visited the Stone Hill Winery.


We had never toured a winery before, so it was a fun new experience for us. First we took the tour, and then enjoyed a wine tasting. The tour started near this lovely old 1800s building.

In 1837 a group of German settlers arrived from Philadelphia to start a town of their own called Hermann. The settlers decided that the hills overlooking the Missouri river would be  good for growing grapes, and so grapevines were planted throughout the growing town and surrounding hillsides.

Soon, there were over 600 wineries in and around Hermann. Stone Hill Winery began in 1847.  Vaulted wine cellars, the largest in the US, were dug out of a hillside over a period of 20 years. Vines were planted, and wine production began.

In 1873, Stone Hill was awarded the first of 8 gold World’s Fair medals in Vienna. By the turn of the century, it was the 2nd largest winery in the US, shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine annually. At this time, Missouri was the 12th largest wine producing area in the world, producing 3 million gallons annually, and nearly all of that was from the Hermann area which boasted 11,000 acres of vinyards.

But in 1920, Prohibition ended this golden era of winemaking. Government officials tore vines from the ground, destroyed wine barrels and winemaking equipment, and poured over a million gallons from Stone Hill alone into the Missouri river. It was said that the river literally ran red for several days. Prohibition and anti-German sentiment during World War I created an economic depression in the area years before the start of the 1929 Great Depression. The owners of Stone Hill turned to growing mushrooms in the former wine cellars.

Then in 1965, a young couple purchased Stone Hill determined to restoring it to its former winemaking glory. Grapevines were planted, the mushrooms removed, and the first wine produced several years later. Today, Stone Hill is Missouri’s oldest and most awarded winery, producing over a quarter million gallons in 2009 alone.

After our tour through the wine cellars, we were treated to a wine tasting, another first for us.


Afterwards, we tottered walked into the gift shop.

We thoroughly enjoyed our first wine tour, and left Stone Hill with 4 bottles of excellent wine.

Tomorrow, a quick look around Hermann, and a ferry boat ride across the Gasconade river at Fredericksburg. See ya!


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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16 Responses

  1. Teresa says:

    As we are working on making wine, I found this one to be very interesting. I don’t think I’ll manage a wine cellar quite like that. It’s just beautiful.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Teresa,
      Imagine how much work it was to dig out those cellars? The soil there is clay and rock. Don’t know how they did it.

  2. Shailaja says:

    I had always wondered if one could get tipsy from wine tasting. Now I have my answer! 🙂 And who wouldn’t like to, those glasses are so inviting!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Shailaja,
      I was feeling quite good after the tasting. Just not used to drinking wine that fast. 🙂

  3. Tes says:

    I have to admit that I am so jealous of people who own wineries. It was one of my childhood dream 🙂
    This sounds like a wonderful place. I am so happy that you post this… it make me feel wonderful 🙂

  4. Vivian says:

    Tottered! (lol) What a beautiful place. I love the wine glasses with the grapes on them. I wonder where you can get some like that? (other than that shop). What a terrible thing to happen to the original wine growers – our government in action. Thanks for the tour and the history lesson.

  5. Suzanne, I like how they give you wine, and then they know you will go into the gift shop…it just loosens you up a little, and probably loosens up customers wallets too! HA HA!! The photo of the vineyard with the winery house behind it is beautiful, makes me want to walk through the rows of grape vines. The history lesson about the government tearing the vines out of the ground…how HEARTBREAKING that must have been for them! Also, can you imagine…moving to a place to start your own town, pretty cool.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      Yes, we noticed that too. That’s why we bought 4 bottles. We never buy more than one bottle at a time. But, we’ll enjoy it at some point.

  6. Glyndalyn says:

    Enjoyed the tour.

  7. beka says:

    My husband and I went to Stone Hill Winery last September and loved our tour- we had lunch in the restaurant also which was delish! Gorgeous cellars, my favorite part of the day was going underground to see them

  8. Kath says:

    A few years ago we were in Branson MO for a wedding. My mother-in-law and I went took the tour and wine tasting. i would take a sip and not like it so she said pour it in mine. After doing that 6 times my mil definitely “tottered” out of there!! We never laughed so much.

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