The best-kept secret in the American wine industry celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The secret? The fact that the first place to receive an American Viticultural Area designation is the small town of Augusta, Missouri.
When a bottle of Stone Hill 2001 Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine was broken across the bow of the U.S.S. Missouri recently, it was not only a tribute to the winemaker, the winery and the state of Missouri, but also a nod to history.
All went well for grape-growing through spring and summer in Missouri, but uncooperative weather in September and October threw the state a curve, and while the whites and some of the red grapes came through swimmingly, the state's most highly regarded grape, Norton, was so slow to ripen that some were still hanging on the vines in late October.