Enjoy Missouri by the glass or by the mile. Follow this scenic, leisurely trail to three small towns that offer the best of the bunch.
Drive, pedal, or taste your way through a region at its peak in early summer. Wineries, shops, and B&Bs dot the countryside
and open their doors to spring. Like riding a bike, this road trip to three of our favorite hamlets is something you'll never
Ramble past rolling hills, fertile vineyards, and stretches of lazy river. Small towns pop up along the way like wildflowers. They're great spots to hop on the Katy Trail, the nation's longest leisurely bike path. This trail is scenic, safe, and gloriously flat. Find your own pace, and remember: The best part of this journey is stopping along the way.
The ambling pace of wine country is far from the bustling spirit of St. Louis, but your first stop, Augusta, is just an hour's
drive along State 94. Filled with quaint B&Bs, this town also boasts several wineries and a beer garden.
The aptly named Mount Pleasant Winery sits on a rise overlooking vibrant fields. Choose your vintage, buy cheese and crackers from the deli, and have a picnic in a little gazebo with a big view. Enjoy equally stunning vistas at Montelle Winery, where deli sandwiches and Missouri-made salami taste even better on a shady deck on a 400-foot ridge above the valley. On some Friday evenings, Sugar Creek Winery in nearby Defiance has live music.
Hop on the Katy Trail near the Augusta Brewing Co. The outdoor beer garden promises beer brats, beer, and Missouri wine at the end of your jaunt. Spend the night at the H.S. Clay House, a rare B&B with a pool and a hot tub. We loved the gourmet breakfast and the treetop suite, which feels like a secret hideaway.
German settlers planted roots--and vines--here in 1837. Their flavors still run strong, from the region's Riesling-style white
wines to the WurstFest held here every March.
On a clear day, you can see across the whole town from Stone Hill Winery. Pair your wine with a meal of schnitzel and wurst at the winery's Vintage Restaurant. Hermannhof Winery sells German sausages to go.
Portraits of five generations of winemakers line the walls at Adam Puchta Winery, the oldest family-owned winery in the country. On the way to Adam Puchta, have lunch at the cottage restaurant & gallery, a little bistro and art gallery hidden in the woods. The Vignoles goes great with their chicken salad.
Crowning a hillside flowing with sprawling grape vines, the Hermann Hill Vineyard & Inn feels like a private estate. The large, elegant rooms and breathtaking views make it a worthwhile splurge at $159 per night and up.
photo: The biggest of these wine country towns, Hermann is filled with shops, antiques, and small eateries. Hermann was founded by German immigrants whose flavors are present today.
Pedaling through the town of Rocheport's perfect charming streets will fill you with childish glee. So will the shops and
bistros. Traffic is mellow, and the Katy Trail is particularly pretty here, flanked by the river on one side and high bluffs
on the other.
Don't miss dinner at Les Bourgeois Vineyard's Blufftop Bistro. Enjoy a gourmet meal from an outdoor terrace overlooking the Missouri River. For something less fancy but just as fun, order burgers, brats, and a bottle of wine at the informal A-Frame Wine Garden next door.
Guests write notes on the chalkboard at the School House Bed & Breakfast Inn, a real class act. We scribbled an A+ for the well-appointed rooms, hearty breakfast, and charming schoolhouse atmosphere. We think you'll love it too.
photo: Blufftop Bistro promises a memorable meal for a very reasonable price. Most entrées are less than $20.
You don't have to be a wine snob to enjoy the ritual of wine tasting, but if you've never done it before, it can feel a little
intimidating at first. Don't be daunted--most pourers are happy to show you how. But to give you a little confidence before
you go, we asked the folks at Mount Pleasant Winery to give us a crash course on tasting wine. They told us it was as simple
as five S's.
You can rent bikes along the way for a few hours or a few days. We prefer the cushy cruisers to the higher tech mountain bikes.
As one rental guru put it: "Twenty-one gears on the Katy Trail? That's like putting lipstick on a pig!"