If you’re looking for a picturesque day trip this fall, look no further than St. James. An hour drive from Jefferson City, you’ll find a unique experience conveniently located off I-44 along historic Route 66, St. James Winery. Choose your own craft wine or beer adventure on their fermentation campus, including the family-owned St. James Winery, Public House Brewing Company, and The Gardens at St. James.
Founded by Jim and Pat Hofherr in 1970, the Hofherr family and St. James Winery team have been a major part of the growth in Missouri’s wine industry. While Jim worked to plant and harvest high quality grapes and turn them into amazing wine, Pat opened up a storefront right off Route 66 to showcase the products. Today, St. James Winery owns 180 acres of vineyards in the Meramec Highlands region and has grown be to Missouri’s largest and most-awarded winery.
“For nearly 50 years, my family has enjoyed the lifestyle of the Meramec Highlands through producing products that reflect our region’s uniqueness” says Peter Hofherr, CEO of St. James Winery. “With the spring-fed streams, trout hatcheries, and the wineries and breweries, the St. James area offers a unique adventure for those looking for a break from the everyday grind.”
St. James Winery partners with Public House Brewing Company, which originally started in Rolla, to drive additional innovation and flavor development through beer and wine on their campus. The two production facilities offer complimentary tours and tastings for their products. Choose your favorite tastes and purchase a bottle for your group to enjoy in The Gardens, a beautifully landscaped outdoor seating area between the winery and brewery. Whether you’re visiting as a family, for a day with friends, or as a couple, The Gardens is a great place to relax and enjoy live music, the fire pit and water feature, bocce ball, or larger-than-life outdoor chess.
Their full-service Public House Brewing Company restaurant also features wood-fired pizzas and a menu that offers both beer and wine pairings with each meal. As a local business who loves the St. James region, they place great pride in sustainability. St. James Winery works to grow quality grapes, craft flavors, and pursue techniques in cutting edge fermentation. St. James Winery offers much to learn and do on their campus, but they’re also close to biking, camping, fishing, and river activities, so it’s easy to plan a full day or a great weekend.
Spooky Cellars Wine Trail event on October 27 and 28 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Harvest Festival at The Gardens at St. James on October 13 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
St. James Winery hosts events throughout the year as well, such as their movie nights in The Gardens or Vineyards. Be sure to follow them on Facebook for upcoming events. facebook.com/StJamesWinery
For catering and facility rentals, including the Vineyard Cottage, Barrel Room, and Brewery Loft, visit stjameswinery.com.
Other St. James Attractions
“There’s always something to do in St. James,” says Teri Smith, director of the St. James Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Center. “We have live music at several different venues every single weekend.”
The chamber keeps a calendar of events posted on their Facebook page and outside of the visitor’s center so people can find local events easily. Every Friday and Saturday, they host a Farmer’s Market in the visitor’s center parking lot, and on Saturdays, there’s a tailgate flea market as well.
“Our specialty places are what brings people here, like the Vacuum Museum. You’ve got food, drink, and friendly faces. You’ve got Maramec Springs, too — every direction you go from here, you’re going to hit water,” says Smith.
Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory
“The Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James is one of a kind. Featuring all different brands and models, the Vacuum Museum is divided into vignettes themed by their decade,” says Tom Gasko, Vacuum Museum curator. “Interesting trivia, such as the reason vacuum cleaners have headlights, as well as period advertisements make this free museum tour a ‘must see’ along Route 66.”
The Museum is open 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is located at #3 Industrial Dr. in St. James.
Sybill’s Saint James
Tom and Janet Scheffer and their daughter, Sybill, have proudly owned and operated Sybill’s Saint James Restaurant and Gift Shop since 2006. “I think that our restaurant and gift shop are quite unique and a destination for dining and shopping,” says Sybill. “We have a fine dining style but with service that’s warm and welcoming.”
With a focus on customer service, Sybill’s Saint James strives to provide guests with a customized dining experience that makes them feel valued and appreciated. They offer an extensive menu, wine list, and seasonal cocktails in an impeccably decorated setting. “Diners can shop in the restaurant as well as in our gift shop for art, home decor, jewelry, clothing, and so much more,” adds Sybill.
Meramec River Wine Trail
The Meramec River Wine Trail opened officially last December. With strong Italian and German influences, each winery offers a unique and beautiful experience with views of the Ozark Highlands and Meramec River.
“The wineries wanted to get together to help promote each other and promote our area better with everything we offer. We’re kind of the well-kept secret, and working together allows us to reach more people as a group than we’ve been able to do individually,” says Katie Nott, secretary of the Meramec River Wine Trail. Katie and her husband, Clyde Gill, are the owners of Peaceful Bend Vineyard in Steelville.
“I think you’ll have a little more of a private experience — there aren’t huge crowds, so you get a chance to get away when you experience the wine trail,” adds Nott.
The participating wineries are Belmont Vineyards, Heinrichshaus Vineyards & Winery, Eagle’s Landing Winery and Just A Taste Restaurant, Meramec Vineyards & Winery, Peaceful Bend Vineyard, Red Moose Vineyard & Winery, St. James Winery, and Three Squirrels Winery. All the wineries on the trail are participating in a Spooky Cellars tour October 27 and 28 from 12 to 5 p.m., pairing a wine with a Halloween treat.
Maramec Spring Park
For those outdoors and water enthusiasts, Maramec Spring Park is a perfect destination. The park has the fifth largest spring in Missouri, with an average of 100 million gallons of water flowing from the spring daily. There are also 1,860 acres of forest and fields and a 200-acre public use area. These make the park great for fishing, picnicking, camping, wildlife viewing, and hiking. The James Foundation, a nonprofit, owns and operates this privately held park.