Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 05:18 am.
Perched dramatically on a hill overlooking the beautiful historic town of Hermann, Stone Hill Winery is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Missouri Wine Country.
Stone Hill has long been known as the pioneering and premier Norton grape grower in Missouri. As Missouri’s oldest winery, the vineyard has been making award-winning wines since 1847. In fact, 2022 marks the 175th-anniversary of the Stone Hill Winery.
Ideally situated about 1.5 hours west of St. Louis, an hour east of Columbia and 3 hours east of Kansas City, Stone Hill Winery sets the standard for wine tourism in Missouri.
Stone Hill is a family-owned and operated winery and vineyard, specializing in Missouri-grown American heritage and hybrid grapes. Their one-of-a-kind winery tour includes the longest series of arched underground cellars in the United States as well as pre-prohibition wine casks.
My husband, Todd and I visited Stone Hill for a tour, wine tasting, and lunch at their Vintage 1847 Restaurant. We loved the atmosphere and the delicous food and wines. The Stone Hill Winery experience checks all the boxes at a high level for it’s tour, tasting and restaurant.
Fun Fact: Norton is the state grape of Missouri. We have a lot more weird, fun & Interesting facts About Missouri!
The Stone Hill Winery Story & History
The history of Stone Hill Winery in many ways is synonymous with the history and founding of Hermann, Missouri.
The town of Hermann was founded in 1837 by German settlers who had previously immigrated to Pennsylvania and found the terrain to be very similar to the wine country of the Rhine Valley in Europe. Today the Hermann AVA (American Viticultural Area) is known as Missouri Rhineland.
Today Stone Hill is the oldest and largest winery in the state of Missouri.
Taking a step back in time, to the turn of the 20th century, Stone Hill Winery was the largest winery west of the Mississippi River, the second-largest winery in the United States, and the third-largest winery in the world.
The winery was founded in by Michael Poeschel in 1847. In 1861 John Scherer became a partner and the winery name was changed to M. Poeschel and Scherer. In 1878 William Herzog and George Stark bought most of the winery and then in 1883 became sole owners and changed its name to Stone Hill Wine Company.
George Stark, who was born in Germany in 1845 and emigrated to the United States in 1867, became sole proprietor in 1893. It was under his management the Stone Hill Wine Company became one of the largest in the country.
The wines won numerous awards in international fairs, including Vienna in 1873, Philadelphia in 1876, and St. Louis World Fair in 1904.
Due to Prohibition, like most other wineries in the United State, it was closed in 1920. During this time, the owners earned money by using its wine cellars to grow mushrooms for profit until 1965.
In 1965, Jim and Betty Held bought Stone Hill Winery and began a labor of love to restore the winery and put Hermann back on the map as a world-class wine producing area.
Stone Hill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 and includes 11 buildings associated with the winery.
Stone Hill is now a three generation business, with Jim and Betty’s son Jon Held along with his wife, Karen and their son, Nathan running the day to day operations.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet with Karen Held and between sips of their flagship 2017 Norton, she shared the 21st century Stone Hill Winery story.
Stone Hill Winery
Hermann is Missouri’s most iconic wine country – and for good reason. Missouri makes some of the best Norton wine in the world and famed wine writer, Robert Parker from Wine Enthusiast agreed, saying Stone Hill was his favorite Norton wine.
There are 136 wineries in Missouri today. As the oldest and most awarded winery, Stone Hill has the distinction of founding the Missouri wine industry in 1847 and re-establishing the state’s wine industry when it was reopened in 1965 by Jim and Betty Held.
Shaun Turnbull is the head winemaker and is originally from Cape Town, South Africa. He studied winemaking at Elsenburg Agricultural College where he received his diploma in Cellar Technology in 1999.
Stone Hill’s flagship wine is the Norton, made with America’s oldest native grape and named for one of it’s first cultivators, Dr. Daniel Norton of Virginia.
Missouri’s hot and humid summers and cold winters create the perfect environment for the Norton grape to thrive.
A general sentiment is that Norton grapes can’t make good wine, but after a visit to Stone Hill Winery you will quickly learn they can make great wines!
During our visit with Karen, she shared that they make wines that compete and stand up with ones across the country. This is clearly evident with their massive amount of awards and medals.
Stone Hill produces 300,000 gallons of wine each year, which is the equivalent of about 100,00 cases of wine. They grow 95% of the grapes that make their wines on their seven vineyards and the oldest grape vines on the property are pre-prohibition.
If you are planning a visit to the winery and want to see the main vineyard in it’s glory, May through end of October tends to be peak growing season. Grapes tend to begin to sprout sometime in May and harvest of the 182 acres is sometime in September or October. Stone Hill harvests the grapes at night to give the most care to the fruit. They then get a hard pruning for winter.
Stone Hill Winery Tour
Tours of Stone Hill are given daily. They are a history lesson in Missouri viticulture history, the town of Hermann & the winery.
The tour begins outside with an overview of the different buildings on the grounds and a close up view of the vineyard.
Once you head underground to the labyrinth of ancient arched cellars, it’s hard to belive they were dug by hand in the 1800’s and are said to have taken 25 years to complete.
Within the ancient cellars is a combination of pre-prohibition casks and modern production and wine-making equipment to make and age the wine. There are also barrel rooms for storage.
One of the advantages of the underground cellar is the ambient natural temperature that is consistent year round. It is an optimal place to make and store wine.
The tour includes a lot of information about the Stone Hill wine making process. Most of Stone Hill’s oak barrels come from Lebanon, Missouri and the majority of their wines are aged in Missouri oak.
Our tour, was led by a very knowledgable staff member who provided deep insights on all aspects of the history of Stone Hill and the current wine making processes. He shared how cask size has changed since prohibition, the process for making their wines, and how the giant stainless steel tanks are cleaned (hint: they are big enough to climb into).
He also explained the role of yeast in wine making, why some wine is aged in French oak such as the Reserve Chardonel instead of Missouri Oak, why some wine is agitated by hand, how wine is aged and so much more.
Beyond the Norton, Stone Hill also uses French-American hybrid grapes such as Vidal, Chardonel and Vignoles.
Once you have completed the tour, it’s time to head to the tasting room.
Stone Hill Wine Tasting
There are three beautiful tasting rooms at Stone Hill. The wine tasting menu consists of dry wine choices, a sparkling wine, semi to sweet wines, a port and a cream sherry for a total of 33 wines in the show room.
I tend to enjoy dry wines, so during my visit, I tasted the Dry Rose, which won best of class dry Rose at the 2021 MO Wine Competion. It’s fruit forward with floral scents and made from Chambourcin, Chardonel and Traminette grape varieties.
Next I tried the Chardonel, which is their closest wine to a Chardonnay. It’s aged twelve months in oak barrels and has hints of pear and grapefruit. Chardonel is a hybrid grape cross between the famed Chardonnay and the popular Seyval.
Their Norton’s are among Missouri’s most acclaimed wines and have won multiple awards. The 2017 Norton brought Stone Hill it’s 5th C.V. Riley award in 9 years as Missouri’s best Norton. It’s made with 100% estate-grown Norton grapes from their Norton Vineyards. Careful fermentation on the skins is followed by 12 months of aging in French, Hungarian and American oak barrels.
The Ozark Hellbender is the best seller for those who do a tasting. It’s a smooth red blend. All variety of grapes used are grown in the Ozark Mountain AVA, but there is a twist. They add the final variety which is a secret that only the winemakers know. A portion of the proceeds from this wine are donated to the St. Louis Zoo.
I also tried the Chambourcin. It drinks like a Pinot Noir and is very approachable. It’s aged for one year in French and American oak barrels. It’s a great every day wine.
Next I tried the Cross J Norton. This is a single vineyard, 100% estate-grown Norton. The Cross J Norton has a 12 month aging in European and American oak barrels. What sets this apart from the Estate Bottled Norton, is a higher percentage of new and European oak.
My last tasting was the Cream Sherry. This was my biggest surprise. It had a rich, nutty flavor from it’s time in an extended aging process in old, small oak barrels. It’s a great sipping wine as an aperitif or as a dessert wine.
Blanc to Blancs is the winemakers favorite. The wine is naturally fermented in the bottle, riddled in the traditional French method, Methode Champenoise, after aging on the yeast approximately 3 to 3 1/2 years. This Brut-style Blanc de Blancs is made from primarily Vidal grapes.
Wine Tastings are $12.00 per person and include a souvenir Stone Hill Winery wine glass and six wine samples.
After the tour and tasting, head to the gift & wine shop.
Wines are available for purchase and range from $12 to $34. Reserve wines and older vintages range from $50-$70.
They also have a fun variety of wine related products in the gift shop.
Vintage Wine Equipment
Thoughout the cellars, restaurant and tasting room, you’ll find some cool vintage wine making equipment.
Stone Hill Awards
Stone Hill Winery has been named Midwest Living Magazine’s Best Winery in their 2022 Best of the Midwest edition. Stone Hill Winery was chosen from over 1100+ wineries across the Midwest as the recipient of Food and Drink – Best Winery award.
The Norton grape, which is what put Stone Hill Winery and Hermann on the map, has won wine competitions on a national and international level.
The awards won by Stone Hill have proven time and time again that Missouri can grow a world-class grape and make award-winning wine.
Stone Hill Winery awards span back much further than the 21st century. They were the winners of gold medals in eight of the World Fairs including Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876.
Stone Hill has won more than 4,000 awards since 1991 alone and continuously rank among the nation’s top award winners.
A few highlights of recent Stone Hill Winery awards:
- In 2022 Stone Hill Winery’s 2015 Cross J Norton and 2017 Late Harvest Vignoles were also Jefferson Cup Nominees and awarded Double Gold medals.
- Stone Hill Winery won the American Wine Society’s 2021 Best Native Wine award for its 2018 Cross J Norton.
- Stone Hill Winery’s 2017 Norton was named the U.S.’ best native wine in 2020. at the American Wine Society Competition.
- The 2011 Norton and 2012 Cross J Norton both won a trifecta of awards including the coveted Missouri Governor’s Cup adding to 8 additional Stone Hill Winery Governor Cup awards.
- Stone Hill Winery won the prestigious Jefferson Cup for the last five year; 2017-2021.
- Norton and 2019 Ozark Hellbender were awarded the Jefferson Cup in 2021.
Vintage 1847 Restaurant
Winemakers will often tell you that their wines are meant to be enjoyed with food. But how often does a winery have a chance to prove it to its guests?
When you visit Stone Hill, you can treat yourself to a food and wine pairing experience at the Vintage 1847 Restaurant.
The restaurant is located in a restored carriage house and horse barn, next to the winery. The restaurant specializes in German cuisine and of course, there is a wonderful award-winning Stone Hill wine menu for pairing.
Joshua Piacentini is the executive chef at Stone Hill Winery and previously was the executive chef at the St. Louis Bellerive Country Club.
Joshua’s food is elevated without being pretentious. Simply put, great ingredients speak for themselves when given a chance.
During our visit, I started with the Wurt Sampler, two locally made sausages on a bed of sauekraut with pickled onions that were served with a delicious grain mustard.
Todd enjoyed the Bavarian Pretzel Sticks, a soft and warm pretzel served with creamy pepper jack cheese sauce.
We then split a classic Reuben they were able to make on a gluten free bun. The sliced corned beef was tender, the sauerkraut was tangy and the swiss cheese and 1000 island dressing made for the best Reuben I have ever had.
Other house specialties include made from scratch Schnitzel, the German Trio (Schnitzel, Sauerbraten and Wurst) as well as Kartoffelpuffer (house-made potato pancakes with bacon and scallions that are served with apple chutney).
For dessert, Todd indulged in their traditional Black Forest Cake; a chocolate sponge cake with layers of cherries and whipped cream that is then topped with cholate shavings.
The most popular wine by the glass at the restaurant is the 2017 Norton. The most popular wine by the bottle is the 2017 Cross J Norton.
Norton Tasting & Dinner
If you want to visit Stone Hill for their flagship event, keep your eye on their calendar for the Norton Vertical Dinner.
This event has been held for over 30 years and is a four-hour food and wine experience like no other!
The evening begins with a sparkling wine & appetizer reception in the Apostle Cellar followed by a 10-year vertical Norton tasting in the Sherry House. During the tasting, you will have the opportunity to taste ten vintages, side-by-side, with a Stone Hill Senior Winemaker.
The tasting is followed by a three-course gourmet wine dinner.
stone hill winery Hermann, missouri Location & Directions
Stone Hill Winery is located at 1110 Stone Hill Hwy, Hermann, MO 65041.
Stone Hill Winery is just about an hour and 30 minutes west of St. Louis, an hour east of Columbia and 3 hours east of Kansas City.
Directions from Kansas City and Columbia: Take 1-70 E/US-40 towards St. Louis. Take exit 175 toward Hermann and turn right on MO-19 S for 16 miles. Turn right on W 16th Street. Left on Jefferson Street and then turn right on Stone Hill Hwy.
Directions from St. louis: Take I-64 W / US-40 W to the I-70 W/ US-40W towards Kansas City. Take exit 188 toward Truxton. Turn left to onto State Hwy A/State Hwy B and then make a right onto State Hwy B. Turn right onto MO-94W and then left onto MO-19 S. Turn right on W14th Street and then right onto W 16th Street. Left on Jefferson Street and then turn right on Stone Hill Hwy.
Stone Hill Winery opens at 10am daily.
Saturday is the busiest day at the winery, so if you are flexible, try and visit on any other day they are open.
I hope you plan your visit and enjoy the free guided tour of the U.S’s longest series of arched underground cellars followed by a wine tasting and then lunch or dinner at the acclaimed Vintage 1847 Restaurant.
After your Stone Hill Winery visit, check out additional wineries on the Hermann Missouri Wine Trail.