ST. LOUIS – Do you like to drink wine? Are you looking for weekend plans? We got you covered.
Feb. 18 was National Drink Wine Day, so we challenged our Facebook followers to name their favorite winery, and we were not disappointed.
Based off community feedback, we made a list of favorite local wineries to check out in Missouri and across the river in Illinois.
History of Missouri wine
Wine goes back to the 1830s in Missouri when German settlers established the town of Hermann in 1837, according to MissouriWine.org.
The ground around Hermann was well-suited for growing wine grapes. So, a decade later, Hermann’s wineries were producing more than 10,000 gallons of wine a year!
Eventually, more than 60 wineries populated the town and by the 1880s, wine lovers in America and Europe were indulging in 2 million gallons of Missouri wine a year!
Top Missouri wineries
Out of more than 150 comments, LaChance Vineyards got the most votes on our Facebook page for favorite Missouri winery.
According to its website, LaChance (pronounced la-shontz) Vineyard is one of Jefferson County’s newest wineries but has a rich family history.
It was founded by Harold and Tami Hamby and has been in the family for years. It was originally purchased in the 1970s by Harold’s parents.
For years, the land was primarily used as an orchard and weekend getaway for Harold and his youngest son for father-son trips.
The Hamby family turned the small family farm into a vineyard in 2012 with over 80 acres of land and nearly 5,000 grapevines.
The vineyard offers a variety of wines and serves lunch, dinner and includes weekend specials.
The vineyard is located at 12237 Peter Moore Lane, about 50 minutes south of St. Louis. For more information on hours and a look at the menu and wine list, click here.
The second-best winery to make our list is Cedar Lake Cellars. The winery and event venue’s buildings from the 1930s were restored in 2002.
According to its website, the popularity of the winery centers around the ‘charming’ Big Red Barn.
Located about 50 miles west of St. Louis, its far enough away for a weekend vacation but close enough to just have one special day away.
If you plan on visiting the winery, you will want to leave your kids at home. Anyone under the age of 21 can only visit the property for special occasions like weddings or family-friendly brunches.
Cedar Lake Cellars is located at 11008 Schreckengast Road, a 50-60 minute drive from St. Louis. Click here for more information on hours, list of events, look at the menu and wine list.
Germans settled in this area long ago and in those early years, the region was recognized for its grape growing attributes with similar soil to that found in wine growing regions in Germany.
Just a few years ago, the land was purchased, and the 1870 era buildings were restored. Now, the winery is described as a "beautiful place with picturesque views.”
According to its website, the winery pays homage to the region and the owners’ German heritage.
The winery is located at 15088 Boone Monument Road, about an hour away from St. Louis. Click here for information on hours and the food and wine list.
History of Illinois wine
Prior to prohibition, Illinois was one of the largest wine producers in the United States, according to IllinoisWine.com.
The first record of wine production in Illinois dates back to the 1690s. A fort was built by Frenchmen in the area north of what is now Peoria, and records show the village surrounding the fort had a winepress.
In the 1770s, a village called LaVille de Maillet was established in what is now known as downtown Peoria. French settlers who lived there had an underground wine vault and winepress.
By the 1850s, the number of vineyards and wineries increased rapidly in Illinois. And in 1868, Illinois was producing about 225,000 gallons of wine!
The number of wineries in Illinois grew even more over the following years and by 2011, there were 105 wineries across the state!
Top Illinois wineries
Several of our Facebook followers said Red Bud Winery was their favorite Illinois winery.
Red Bud winery is almost 40 miles away from St. Louis. It is your standard winery where guests can have rehearsal dinners and private parties.
And if you’re not only a wine lover but a pizza lover as well, then you’ll love this place! They serve gourmet pizzas along with the rest of their menu.
The winery also has a wine club you can join and receive two bottles of wine each quarter.
The winery is located at 1524 West Market, a 40-50 minute drive from St. Louis. Click here for information on hours and a look at the menu and wine list.
And last but not least, Twelve Oaks Vineyard.
This vineyard is located outside the southern Illinois town of Carlyle, almost 55 miles from St. Louis.
According to its website, the grapes grown in the vineyard are maintained and cared for by a small-town family-owned business.
A recent post on the winery’s Facebook page expressed thanks to the community for their support.
“Our goal is to make excellent wine and create a relaxing atmosphere at our winery where people feel welcome,” the post read, in part.
Twelve Oaks Vineyard is located at 18975 Vogel Road, about an hour drive from St. Louis. For information on hours and a look at the wine list, click here.
Have a favorite winery that didn't make this list? Let us know!