ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — Members of the Hoffmann family, who are hoping to bring world-wide tourism to Missouri wine country, floated their next development Sunday in St. Charles County.
It was a 100-foot luxury yacht with a familiar name – “Miss Augusta.”
David and Jerri Hoffmann hosted dozens of people on the inaugural cruise.
“Our company’s event people say the phone is ringing off the hook to settle in on these day cruises we’re offering," David said.
They currently launch out of The Yacht Club of St. Louis, which is located in St. Charles County.
“This is a temporary dock for it,” said Hoffmann. “Our dock is being built in Augusta in Klondike Park. It’s not finished yet. We’re going to be open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, now, for the rest of the season from this location and during season, we’ll be open every day.”
“Luxury cruises are something that’s sorely lacking in St. Louis,” said Jerri. “We’ve had riverboat venues before, of course nothing like the Miss Augusta. I think people are really going to be appreciative of it.”
5 On Your Side asked the Hoffmanns to compare their plans in and around Augusta to what they’ve developed in other parts of the country.
The Hoffmann’s son, Greg, is CEO of Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate.
“This is probably our fourth town where we’ve done something similar to this,” said Greg. “It started with the Base at Beaver Creek ski resort. We saw a similar opportunity there. Naples, Florida, is probably our most recent development, before Augusta. They’re all unique but with a similar play book, trying to bring out the potential that these areas possess. We’re certainly not trying to recreate, but bring to light some of the rich history these areas all have had and shared for decades before us.”
The Hoffmanns said they are about ten percent into their overall vision for the area in and around Augusta. So how do Missouri wines compare to those in Napa Valley?
David said, “Certainly people have heard about Napa, and as we were driving down Missouri Highway 94, we thought, gosh, the terrain and beauty is every bit as good. I think the wine was misunderstood. We plan to fix that. We have, to some degree, in six months - by distributing it to other parts of the country. Every wine is somewhat similar to the soils that you plant in, and indigenous to the region. And we have that here. We have the Norton grape, which the state is known for. It’s great. We have other wines. Our port is exceptional and competes with any port in the world. I know that’s a bold statement, but I think it’s true. I think they haven’t been marketed the way I think we can market those wines and those opportunities around the world.”
On the subject of world-renowned development, a reporter pointed out that 25 years ago, Branson was just a small town in southwest Missouri.
“Good comparison,” he said.
Is it a good comparison to what Hoffmanns have in mind for Missouri wine country?
“A very good comparison," Hoffmann added. "It’s a great part of the country and we plan to do a similar type thing, here.”
David said they have yacht tours in Naples, Florida, similar to those they launched in St. Charles County on Sunday and they transport 85,000 customers a year.