AUGUSTA, Mo. — David Hoffmann has a sense of disbelief in his voice.
Standing in the wine cellar at Mount Pleasant Estates in Augusta, Missouri, the 69-year-old businessman and entrepreneur looks around the space, a room that was built in 1881, and turns to his wife, Jerri.
"I can't believe we're the owners of it," he said.
The 162-year-old Augusta winery, located about 50 minutes west of St. Louis, has haunted Hoffmann for years. He first tried buying it 20 years ago, but came up short with his bid. He was determined not to let it happen again.
“This time we were pretty aggressive in getting it done,” Hoffmann said.
Calling it "aggressive" barely scratches the surface. The Hoffmanns, owners of a Florida conglomerate involved in everything from real estate development to hospitality to professional sports, since January have acquired not just the Mount Pleasant winery, but three others, along with five vineyards and 10 buildings in downtown Augusta.
The family, through its company, the Hoffmann Family of Companies, plans to invest $125 million in the region, surpassing initial projections of $100 million. In addition to the acquisitions it has already made, the family is planning a five-star hotel and a golf course, with more winery acquisitions likely.
The dealings are part of a plan by the Hoffmanns, who grew up in the area, to remake the 290-person town into the largest vineyards and winery development in the Midwest. David Hoffmann envisions Augusta becoming a national wine destination, similar to the famed Napa Valley region in California or Blackberry Farm, a renowned wine destination in Walland, Tennessee.
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