AUGUSTA, Mo. — You can feel it in the air, fall has begun and it brings to mind all kinds of activities including a long time favorite; winery outings!
If you've driven into Augusta lately you most likely have seen a change that has spurred a lot of questions of what's to come. Just like the fall leaves, there have been a lot of changes in the last few months.
Augusta has long been known for its sprawling vineyards and award-winning wines however recent acquisitions of multiple vineyards and wineries by the Hoffmann family are prompting a lot of questions!
"The Riverboat thing, the hotels, all that's great for the area,” said Defiance Ridge owner Chuck Gillentine. “You know what worries me is what we are hearing at the tasting bar about price increasing.”
Gillentine was approached about his property as were Angie Geis and Christine Newbold, owners of Noboleis Vineyards and both decided not to sell. There are comments online about price increases of tastings and to purchase wine at the wineries now owned by the Hoffmanns.
Do they feel they need to adjust their prices?
"We won't be swayed by decisions that other people make,” Newbold said. "I mean, all of these places were owned by other people in the past and we all did our own thing.”
Noboleis recently lost their patriarch and his daughters now run the winery and had a tough decision to go at it alone.
"We always will hear him in the back of our head guiding us and now we are getting new visitors that have never been here so that's exciting," said Geis.
The Hoffmanns recently announced a 12-hole championship golf course and amphitheater as well as plans for an upscale restaurant, lodge and hotel, trolley rides, a yacht and hot air balloon rides. This is all coming to Augusta as the Hoffmanns want to turn it into another Napa Valley.
"We don't have the weather they have, our grapes are not the same varietals, our growing seasons are different and we have to worry about hail, and rain and frost that they don't have to worry about in Napa" said Gillentine.
They all remain optimistic.
"I think what Mr. Hoffmann and his companies are trying to do for the area is amazing because Augusta is beautiful, and it's not gotten the recognition that it needed,” said Newbold.
Competition and a gentle nudge from above have prompted the sisters to start another company called Swirl which is canned Sangria and two new botanical products that are due out this fall. Defiance Ridge has big plans of their own but for now they are focused on the large crowds set to come in this fall.
"We have 10 weeks to shine, it is a really busy season and you have to take care of it,” Gillentine said.