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Fall For The Wines, Scenery Of Nearby Jefferson County

Wineries are a short drive from St. Louis & boast award-winning wine, music, food


August 24, 2018
What better way to spend a fall evening or weekend than with a glass of wine, music and scenic countryside close to home. With the growing number of wineries calling Jefferson County home, it's possible for wine lovers to savor their favorite vintage with just a short drive south along Interstate 55.

Jefferson County includes the towns of Barnhart, De Soto, Imperial, Hillsboro, House Springs, Herculaneum and Kimmswick.

Just west of Barnhart off Highway 21, the family-owned Persimmon Ridge Vineyards invites guests for a quiet experience at its vineyards and winery with Norton and Chardonel varieties. The winery's Persimmon is a sweet fruit wine unique to its vineyard. In the fall/winter, try a warm mulled blend with Persimmon's Dry Blush. Savor its wine in an outdoor setting while listening to live music on Saturdays and Sundays, 2 to 5 p.m. The winery is open year round on weekends with a four-season tasting area. For more information or a schedule of its music, visit www.persimmonridgewinery.com.

On an expansive 10-acre estate in the rolling hills of Hillsboro, off Highway 21, Shrewsbury native Ed Wagner and Mark Baehmann of South County opened Wild Sun Winery on Sept. 17, 2015.

Wild Sun offers a portfolio of wines to indulge one's every spirit including a barrel-fermented Chardonel, semi-dry and sweet reds and whites, a dry red blend, a Norton, a Cabernet Sauvignon.

The winery, open all year, has ample seating for parties, large or small, on decks, a patio and a pavilion, plus acres of open green space with shade trees. A limited food menu is available, including pizza, soup, sausage, cheese and bread. Picnic baskets, folding chairs and blankets are welcome.

On Fridays, 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 4, the winery features live music May through October. For the music lineup, visit its website, www.wildsun.com.

LaChance Vineyards, an elegant family-owned vineyard, is nestled amid the rolling hills of De Soto off Highway 21. What was once a small family farm, its 80 acres now have nearly 5,000 grapevines with plans to expand. Guests can sample one or several of LaChance's distinctive wines in the indoor tasting room or outside on the courtyard patio or partially-covered deck. The winery offers the best of both worlds: a charming, intimate winery experience with first-class amenities. Listen to live music on Friday nights or Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The winery serves lunch Wednesday through Sunday. Dinner is served on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. Guests may also bring a picnic. For more information, or a lineup of its music schedule, call 636-586-2777 or visit www.lachancevineyards.com.

Mastodon State Historic Site features a full-size replica of a mastodon skeleton. photo courtesy Missouri State Parks.

Missouri wine meets Italian hospitality at Villa Antonio Winery in Hillsboro. Guests are invited to enjoy Italian hospitality, live music, award-winning wines and wood-fired pizza or light fare from the kitchen.

All Villa Antonio wines are handcrafted in the Northern Italian tradition. The winery grows a variety of grapes on its property for its premium wines.

Whether visiting for an afternoon of music, food and wine or hosting a special event on its spacious grounds, Villa Antonio's goal is to make guests' days happy and memorable.

The winery is open year round with live music on most Saturday and Sunday afternoons and on Friday nights during peak season.

The Terrace at French Village is located in the old Werner home built in the 1890s at the northern tip of the Ozark Highland Triangle, about 10 miles east of Bonne Terre. With grapes from a nearby vineyard, French Village produces its own line of wines along with a crisp sparkling Moscato. For the non-wine lovers, the winery serves a variety of domestic and craft beers.

For hungry guests, The Terrace has a variety of brick oven pizzas, wings, chicken strips, pretzels, a few desserts plus cheese and sausage. Picnic baskets are welcome.

The winery is open Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with entertainment and a unique twist on its tasting room. For more information or a music schedule, visit www.villaantoniowinery.com.

In addition to wineries, Jefferson County boasts historic and natural attractions that are a must see.

Mastodon State Historic Site near Imperial is home to the Kimmswick Bone Bed, one of the most extensive Ice Age fossil deposits in the country. Site excavations have yielded bones of mastodons and giant ground sloths. A full-size replica of a mastodon skeleton is on display at the museum.

Washington State Park, near De Soto, is also a testament to the area's prehistoric times. Two-thirds of Missouri's known petroglyphs, or rock carvings, can be found at the park. The park also features three hiking trails, plus easy access to the Big River for swimming or fishing.

About 30 covered bridges once spanned Missouri's rivers and creeks. Only four remain, including Sandy Creek Covered Bridge north of Hillsboro. John H. Morse constructed the bridge in 1872 as part of a county-wide building program. The bridge now makes up the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site.

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