Our winery is nearby the Augusta appellation, the 1st federally designated viticulture (aka “wine”) region in the United States.
What’s known as Missouri wine country encompasses an area around Augusta, including Defiance, Dutzow and Marthasville. This part of the Missouri river valley is rich in history adding to the heritage of the wines of the region. Records in the Archives of the Missouri Historical Society indicate that the first grapes were grown in the Missouri river valley about 1810. Just up the road Nathan Boone and his famous father, Daniel, lived and maintained a grape arbor presumably for winemaking. In 1804 Lewis and Clark came through on their historic trek up the Missouri river to the Pacific. History does not record if Lewis & Clark met up with Boone, but it is hard to believe that they did not. Just south of the vineyard is the Judgment Tree Site where Daniel Boone held court, and passed judgment on those who came before him as a Territorial Judge.
The old road winds through the hills looping through what is now the Busch Wildlife Area, a vast wilderness of oak, birch and hickory teeming with deer, raccoon and turkey. It brushes the river in several spots first running the ridge, then dipping into the valleys before straightening out just long enough to run through the tiny town of Defiance. On the south end of town the road makes a ninety degree swing left, then back right forming a perfect corner before running on south along the KATY Trail. Squeezed between the old highway and the KATY trail right at the corner where Highway 94 makes its jog in Defiance is Yellow Farmhouse Vineyard and Winery.
The KATY Trail is named after the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, the ‘KATY’ as it was called before it went the way of many railroads. Preservationists saw the roadbed running parallel to the Missouri river as the perfect opportunity to create a two hundred mile long hiking/biking trail almost all the way across the state. Through the generosity of the Edward Jones Family the trail became a reality. On week-ends hundreds of cyclists and hikers take to the trail to enjoy the long stretches of undisturbed countryside and to explore the many quaint towns that line the river.
We have a unique relationship here with the wine growing regions of Bordeaux in France. Somewhere around 1900 in Bordeaux, Philoxera (a mite-borne parasite) attacked the roots of the vine, devastating crops, and killing entire vineyards. Scientists noticed that Missouri vines were resistant to Philloxera, and rootstock from the Missouri river valley was baled and shipped to France. The famous French vines were grafted to the Missouri roots – and viola!. Their French vines obtained a resistance to the disease. Even today some of the older Bordeaux vines in some of the most famous vineyards in the world are grown on Missouri roots.
The site of the Yellow Farmhouse, originally a blacksmith shop and then an old general store, was a stopping off point for drovers and horsemen heading into St. Louis. The old foundation of the general store still lies just below the surface of the front lawn. The yellow house was built in the early twenties, and the barn, which is now the winery building, thereafter.