Growing Grapes in Missouri

German and Italian immigrants established the wine industry in Missouri in the 19th century, although native Americans were already cultivating wild grown grapes in the area. Long before the Prohibition, Missouri was the second largest producer of grape wines in the country. By the 1880s, Missouri was supplying 2,000,000 gallons of wine every year. However, it was only in the 1960s that an attempt to revive the region’s glorious grape growing industry was done. In 2003, Missouri had 37 wineries and 870 acres of vineyards mostly dedicated to growing cold-hardy American varieties such as Norton, Catawba, and Concord and French-American hybrids like Seyval, Chambourcin, and Vignoles. Although Missouri’s climate provides warm summers and lots of sun for a long growing season, the winters are too cold for the European (Vitis vinifera) varieties more commonly found in California. Recently, French-American hybrids such as Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Mourvedre have gained popularity in this region.

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