A bet with high school classmates (thanks Nelson and Gretchen!) on the World Series brought a bottle of Augusta Reserva Del Patron 2009 Estate Bottled Norton wine to our front door yesterday. Yes, wine from Missouri. We have done quite a lot of reading about the Norton grape and were eager to sample this bottle. From the winery’s website: “This wine is the true expression of the Norton grape, with powerful intensity of fruit and big, silky tannins. The color is dark, with briar, plum, and currant flavors riding along a racy, mineral streak that culminates with lovely chocolate and boysenberry notes on the finish.” We found the wine a little acidic for our taste, with the acid notes drowning out anything we might have been able to detect in the finish. The aroma was lovely, however, with notes of the aforementioned plum and currant flavors.
Located 46 miles west of St. Louis just north of the Missouri River, the Augusta winery was founded by Tony Kooyumjian in 1988. Augusta and their sibling winery Montelle produce 35,000 cases per year — no longer a small winery! The winery is eponymously named after its host town of Augusta Missouri. In 1980, Augusta was recognized as the first AVA, because of its unique soil, climate, historical significance, and quality of wines produced from grapes grown in vineyards that date to the 1800’s. Mr. Kooyumjian is a retired commercial pilot. His grandmother immigrated to California from Armenia in 1915 and established a vineyard in San Joaquin Valley, which she operated with her son until 1960. While he had wine in his blood, he pursued a career in aviation as a commercial pilot. After he retired in 2001 he turned to winemaking full time.
Augusta wines are only distributed in Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, and Arkansas, so if you’re inclined to try them you’ll have to order from the winery. The web site is very well designed and easy to navigate.