Sign Up for Wine 101 in Missouri Six Wineries Provide Education in Enology

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Byline: Mike Michaelson

When Miles and Jack, those two unlikely ex-college roommates, went on their wine-country romp to the Santa Ynez Valley in the popular award-winning 2004 film "Sideways," they fermented huge interest in touring-and-tasting getaways.

If the idea appeals and you'd also like to learn something about wines (and stay within the Midwest), check out Wine 101 (Jan. 13 and 14) at six Missouri wineries along the Hermann Wine Trail.

"This event gives visitors a chance to see production areas that usually aren't open to the public and to meet and talk with winemakers," says Patty Held-Uthlaut of Stone Hill Winery. Cost is a nominal $15 per person, with advance purchase recommended. (The event will be held regardless of weather; because wine cellars are cold in January, be sure to bundle up.)

"Just the fact that there was a movie made about wine is fantastic," says Held-Uthlaut, who, along with two siblings, earned degrees in enology and viticulture and joined the family business. " 'Sideways' showed that visiting wine regions can be fun and educational. We don't produce vinifera wines, as featured in the movie, but we do offer wines that are similar in style."

Before Prohibition shuttered its wineries, Missouri was the second-largest wine-producing state in the Union, with no fewer than 100 wineries in this region alone. As early as the 1880s, it was producing 2 million gallons of wine annually (surpassed only by New York).

The Hermann Wine Trail meanders for 20 scenic miles between the historic German-settled community of Hermann and New Haven and connects seven wineries. Six are participating in Wine 101. Make these stops to sample wine as you drink in knowledge:

Stone Hill Winery: In a region clustered with boutique wineries, Stone Hill Winery is a major player. Perched dramatically atop a hill where vineyards climb toward the three-story 1869 federal- style main building, Stone Hill is Missouri's oldest and most widely recognized winery. In the past decade, it has captured more than 2,500 awards.

Established by German immigrants in 1847, Stone Hill was reopened in 1965 by Jim and Betty Held, who produced the first commercial wines in Missouri since Prohibition. Stone Hill offers tours of its vast network of cavernous arched cellars.

101 topic, Barrel Aging Norton: evaluates Norton wine aged in American oak and French oak barrels. Spicy and robust, Norton is made with Missouri's official state grape and is a red wine that is especially popular with Missouri producers.

Adam Puchta Winery: Missouri's oldest family farm winery lies along a creek in the beautiful Frene Valley. A tradition of wine making began in 1855 by Adam Puchta is continued by his great- great-grandson.

101 topic, Sensory Evaluation of Wine: a lesson in wine tasting and pairing wine with food. …