The family-owned business hopes to make Augusta, Missouri wine country a national destination.
Augusta, Missouri has long been a popular local destination this time of year. You can feel it in the air, fall has begun and it brings to mind all kinds of activities including a long-time favorite; winery outings!
Many people flock to the winding roads of Missouri Route 94 to take in the fall scenery and the many wineries offering Norton, Chambourcin, Vignoles, Rieslings, and more.
Missouri gained notoriety in 1980 as the first American wine area (AVA) in the United States, at the time beating California and Oregon. Vineyards and wineries have grown over the decades with over 125 wineries now in the state of Missouri.
However, there have been a lot of changes in the last few months in Augusta, and the recent acquisitions of multiple vineyards and wineries by the Hoffmann family are just one of them, and these acquisitions prompt a lot of questions.
Defiance Ridge owner Chuck Gillentine has a say about the recent changes in Augusta,
“The Riverboat thing, the hotels, all that’s great for the area. You know what worries me is what we are hearing at the tasting bar about price increases.”
Meanwhile, the Hoffmann family of companies has a great vision of making Augusta a more national destination, David and Jerri Hoffmann hopes to rival Napa Valley. The Hoffmanns now own the Montelle, Mt. Pleasant, Balducci, and Augusta vineyards.
But Gillentine sees Hoffmann’s acquisitions differently, he was approached about his property as were Angie Geis and Christine Newbold, owners of Noboleis Vineyards and both decided not to sell. There are comments online about price increases of tastings and purchasing wine at the wineries now owned by the Hoffmanns.
Do they feel they need to adjust their prices?
“We won’t be swayed by decisions that other people make,” Newbold said. “I mean, all of these places were owned by other people in the past and we all did our own thing.”
Noboleis recently lost their patriarch and his daughters now run the winery and had a tough decision to go at it alone.
“We always will hear him in the back of our head guiding us and now we are getting new visitors that have never been here so that’s exciting,” said Geis.
The Hoffmanns recently announced a 12-hole championship golf course and amphitheater as well as plans for an upscale restaurant, lodge and hotel, trolley rides, a yacht, and hot air balloon rides. This is all coming to Augusta as the Hoffmanns want to turn it into another Napa Valley.
“We don’t have the weather they have, our grapes are not the same varietals, our growing seasons are different and we have to worry about hail and rain and frost that they don’t have to worry about in Napa,” said Gillentine.
They all remain optimistic.
“I think what Mr. Hoffmann and his companies are trying to do for the area is amazing because Augusta is beautiful, and it’s not gotten the recognition that it needed,” said Newbold.
Competition and a gentle nudge from above have prompted the sisters to start another company called Swirl which is canned Sangria and two new botanical products that are due out this fall. Defiance Ridge has big plans of their own but for now, they are focused on the large crowds set to come in this fall.
“We have 10 weeks to shine, it is a really busy season and you have to take care of it,” Gillentine said.