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Biking and Vineyards: A Trip Through Missouri Wine Country

Updated on April 23, 2013

Wine Tasting on the Katy Trail

If you've never visited Missouri, you'd be surprised to know that wineries abound in this Midwestern state. Although Missouri is part of the Great Plains, it isn't completely flat. The southern portion sits in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. When early German settlers first found the hilly land nestled along the Missouri Riverbed it reminded them of their homeland. They knew it was ideal for wine making. Today the St Louis area boasts several dozen independent wineries.

One of the best ways to explore the wineries in my state is by bike on the fabulous Katy Trail. I've found that biking in wine country is the perfect way to blend two things I love - long bike rides through gorgeous scenery and relaxing with a glass of wine.

All photos are by author

Long Trails, Gorgeous Views - A Glimpse of the Katy Trail

It's hard to surpass the beauty of the Katy Trail.

For a good portion of the way the shaded trail follows the meandering Missouri river. As you ride through the river valley you'll see the river on one side and craggy majestic bluffs of limestone on the other.

The section of the Katy Trail that winds through wine country is the same route traveled by explorers Lewis and Clark on their venture to the west.

The Katy Trail

Rails to Trails

The Katy Trail is a bike rider's dream trail. It's a 225 mile path that follows the Missouri river across the entire state of Missouri (well, almost. It ends 52 miles from the border). There are 25 trailheads along the way.

The path was constructed on the site of the old Missouri, Kansas, Texas railroad line (MKT) as part of the Rails to Trails System. Hence the name KT or Katy trail.

For the most part, this crushed limestone trail is quite flat, as a matter of fact the grade never is more than 5%.

We began our wine tour in Defiance a small town 45 miles west of St Louis.

The Wine Tour Begins

Defiance, Missouri

Defiance has six wineries to explore. They have free or low cost wine tasting. If you travel in October, the best month for weather, you'll find many wineries have live music.

If you'd like to rent a bike, there's a bike shop right in the town near the trail.

This is where we hop on the trail and begin our ride to the wine town of Augusta.

It's an easy 6 1//2 mile ride through the trees.

Here I am ready for my ride, and no, It may look that way, but I haven't had a glass of wine yet.

Notice how flat and shady the trail is? It's just perfect for any style bike. I have a hybrid but many road bikers use this trail too.

What's so great about this trail is you'll run out before it does. You can ride for 200 miles if you should desire.

Another thing about the trail that's especially nice is that everyone you pass will wave and say hello. That's just how it's done on the Katy Trail.

A Trail with a History

The section of the Katy Trail that winds through the wine country of Missouri is a very famous one, steeped in history. As you ride the winding path next to the Missouri river, you realize that the scenery is still much the same as what Lewis and Clark viewed on their journey west.

Daniel Boone, the consummate frontiersman moved to this section of the country to escape the urban life. He lived out his final years right where we begin our journey in the town of Defiance.

As you ride the trail, you realize Daniel Boone walked this very riverbank.

Along the Path

You won't see the vineyards from the trail because the path is down by the river valley. The vineyards are all on the steep hillsides beyond the limestone cliffs.

You will see wild grapes hanging from the grapevine covered trees. This October the vines were full of wild grapes.

Augusta Trailhead

You can't miss Augusta. The trail head has a large parking lot and plenty of room for bikes.

Every weekend in the fall the parking lot is full of bikes.

From here you'll need to bike up some steep hills, but it's worth it. It's really worth it. There are two wineries in town,only a mile from the trailhead. There are more to visit right outside of town as well.

If you don't wish to take the hills, there's a nice brewery right on the trail head. It's easy to reach and great outdoor views. The brewery offers free water for bikers and a restroom.

Wine Country

Time for a Toast

Augusta has several wineries, two are located right in the old town.

Wine tasting is free or offered for a nominal fee at most of the wineries in Augusta.

Many wineries have live music May through October and offer winery tours as well.

Before the Civil War, Missouri was the number one wine producing state in the country. In the 1860s, Missouri wine growers helped the French overcome the Great French Wine Blight by sending rootstock for grafting.

Mount Pleasant Winery

It's definitely worth it to take the ride up the hill. The views are just spectacular. Here's the view from the patio of the Mount Pleasant Winery. There's a large outdoor seating area with great views and live entertainment.

Wine tasting at Mount Pleasant costs $5.00 for 6 samples of wine. The sample sizes were quite large. You can also take a free wine tour or grab lunch and enjoy it on the patio.

Augusta Winery

The Augusta Winery has complimentary sampling of 7 varieties. They offer live music, free wine tours and a restaurant with a limited menu.

Tips for Biking the Wine Trail

Of course you'll want to pack the usual gear such as water bottle, helmet, sunscreen and camera. Here are a few other things to think about:

  • Prepare for Flat Tires The path is constructed of crushed limestone. It can be hard on road bike tires, (recommend tire 25mm or wider tire) so be prepared. Just remember to bring emergency tubes and tools. You don't want to get caught with a flat miles from a trailhead.
  • Bring a lightweight backpack You'll want to have a way to carry your wine purchases.
  • Protect your eyes The trail is really dusty and depending on the time of year, buggy too. Bring along something to protect your eyes, sunglasses or riding goggles are great.
  • Wet wipes for clean up One thing I didn't have was a way to clean up before heading into the winery. Since the trail kicks up so much dust, it would have been nice to get some of it off before walking into the wineries.

Handy items for your trip

Topeak Mini 20 Pro Mini Tool (Black)
Topeak Mini 20 Pro Mini Tool (Black)

It's always a good idea to have bike tools on hand. You never know when they'll come in handy.

 
Bell Sports Bike Tube Repair Kit
Bell Sports Bike Tube Repair Kit

Have a spare tube with you on your ride as insurance.

 
black high performance bi-focal +2.50 grey lens
black high performance bi-focal +2.50 grey lens

Have some protection for your eyes. Certain times of the year the bugs can be thick near the river.

 
Cycle Aware CycleAware Stow-Away Packable Backpack Neon
Cycle Aware CycleAware Stow-Away Packable Backpack Neon

This can be stashed in your bike bag and pulled out to carry back your wine purchases.

 

The Return Trip

After a long relaxing visit to the town of Augusta, it's time to ride back to the starting point. The trip down the steep hills to the trailhead is exhilarating. Back on the trail again.

I hope you'll be able to ride in wine country if not here in Missouri, somewhere else. It's a great combination - wine and bikes. Try it sometime.

Wow! Am I surprised about this LotD

Thank you all for your very nice comments. I'm so surprised and happy, as a matter of fact, I'm doing the LotD happy dance right now. If I don't get to answer your comment now, I'll try to soon. Thanks very very much.

Thanks for coming by. Drop me a message if you're a biker.

Have you ever biked through wine country? - If not, I hope you'll get a chance to.

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    • justramblin profile image
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      justramblin 4 years ago

      @Echo Phoenix: Hi Echo, thanks for your nice compliment!

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @MBurgess: Yes, I love this area! The trails are very easy,too.

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 4 years ago

      Fab Lens... was thinking to do one myself! yet that is not how I found your lens today so Congrats on the Purple Star and for being featured as an example of what a Purple Star Lens looks like :) obviously, you nailed it!!! oh, and a belated welcome to Missouri Wine Country. I have family all along the trail so perhaps I will see you on the Katy or at one of the wineries.

    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      This is a really pretty area! I know someone who would love this. Great trails and a neat idea for a vacation!

    • cdougherty6 profile image

      cdougherty6 4 years ago

      Wow it is beautiful there. I also had no idea you all had wineries there and will have to consider adding the Missouri Wine areas to my list of places I need to visit. Thank you for sharing this information!

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @bethann21: I know, I thought the same thing. It's really a great ride, and if you can you should try it.

    • bethann21 profile image

      bethann21 4 years ago

      This was great! I had no idea that Missouri had a wine trail let alone a great biking one.

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @rob-hemphill: Rob, you live around here? Perhaps I've passed you on the Katy trail. thanks for coming by to read this.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      This is right up my street and brings back memories of my wine growing days. It looks like you had a lot of fun with your complimentary sampling of 7 different wines. Great lens.

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @GardenerDon: That's very kind of you to say! thanks for stopping by.

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 4 years ago

      I think you need to change the "brand new to Squidoo" line in your profile. Anyone who can put together an excellent page such as this has elevated themselves from brand new that's for sure.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I enjoyed reading about your bike trip and wine tasting. Sound like fun. Congrats on LoTD. Thanks for sharing.

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 4 years ago

      I haven't, but I would love to! This looks so beautiful :)

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      We have many wonderful wineries in Australia. Like you, I love touring them.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 4 years ago from Washington KS

      Missouri wine country is beautiful, indeed!! I've never biked through it but have enjoyed the scenery in my travels many times. Congrats on LOTD and Happy St. Paddy's Day.

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Beautiful place and interesting lens .Thanks for sharing

    • MusicMadness LM profile image

      MusicMadness LM 4 years ago

      Really looks like a great trip. Can't wait for winter to be over in the great white north to enjoy a little outdoor fun. Loved your pictures.

    • MusicMadness LM profile image

      MusicMadness LM 4 years ago

      Really looks like a great trip. Can't wait for winter to be over in the great white north to enjoy a little outdoor fun. Loved your pictures.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 4 years ago from Canada

      No but it sounds wonderful and I do like biking. The scenery looks wonderful too.

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @Gayle Mclaughlin: Hooray for Missouri. I never knew it was such a gorgeous state until moving here.

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @kerrylea: Kerry, can you bike around the wineries in Australia? Have fun on your visit.

    • GatorD profile image

      GatorD 4 years ago

      This is a wonderful idea. I never knew that Missouri would be full of wineries. Congrats on LoTD. Well deserved. Thanks for sharing. My first read of the day with my first cu of coffee and it made a perfect choice.

    • kerrylea profile image

      kerrylea 4 years ago

      I love the wineries, the Hunter Valley in NSW is where we usually go. We will be visiting the Barossa Valley in South Australia soon, can't wait.

    • fotolady49 lm profile image

      fotolady49 lm 4 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! Thank you for sharing such and interesting and informative lens. The Katy Trail will have to go on my "To Do" List. I never knew that Missouri was the number one wine producing state in the country before the Civil War. I love wine tasting also!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      No, but looks like an adventure!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      This looks like beautiful country. Thank you for publishing this lens and sharing the story.

    • jean valdor profile image

      jean valdor 4 years ago

      great lens

    • paktech profile image

      paktech 4 years ago

      I also like to go to distant places on my bike.

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      I would love to ride a long distance trail like that one but you can keep the wine. They have some similar here in Australia that follow old train lines, but they are nearly 2000 kilometres from where I live unfortunately. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      mina009 4 years ago

      Great tour!

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 4 years ago from McLaughlin

      Missouri is my home state. I have visited the Katy Trail and the wineries but not together. Thanks for highlighting my state!

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 4 years ago

      A great way to mix exercise and enjoyment,

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      We love visiting different wine trails in the U.S. & this one is definitely on our must see list! Lovely lens and photos.

    • Jeff Quest profile image

      Jeff Quest 4 years ago

      Thanks for such an interesting lens. I never thought that there were trails like this let along in wine country. I have visited Missouri a few times recently and always had a good time. Biking the Katy Trail and sampling the different wines will certainly give me another excuse to visit.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Congrat! I liked it earlier... really neat! ;-)

    • plaster-fellow profile image

      plaster-fellow 4 years ago

      Lovely lens. Like you, I love the outdoors and I do quite a bit of walking. I live in Western Oregon, and we have lots of wineries - some with some pretty good wine. Most of these wineries are on paved country roads which can be biked, but lack of decent shoulders makes it a little more iffy.

    • worldflashpacker profile image

      worldflashpacker 4 years ago

      I love tasting wine, where it is grown and produced. I have down several wine tours but never in the states. Will have to try.

    • worldflashpacker profile image

      worldflashpacker 4 years ago

      I love tasting wine, where it is grown and produced. I have down several wine tours but never in the states. Will have to try.

    • profile image

      Embeegee 4 years ago

      I live in wine country too, the Swan Valley in Western Australia. Unfortunately, there is no bike trail, but you can hire a wine tour travelling by horse and cart, or more usually by bus.

    • petertraoassi2 profile image

      petertraoassi2 4 years ago

      Biking and wine tasting, what could be better? I love it!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 4 years ago

      This sounds positively wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing this experience here - congrats on LotD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I also live in Wine Country - Fingerlakes Region, Upstate New York! We also have a lot of beautiful trails here :) Great lens! I had no idea there were other wine countries :)

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Congrats on LOTD! I didn't even know Missouri had a wine country. With the names Augusta and Mount Pleasant, it sounds like it's in my neck of the southeast!

    • Violin-Student profile image

      Violin-Student 4 years ago

      Not a biker, but I lived in Washington MO for several years. Beautiful part of the country. I drove through Dutzow, Augusta, and Defiance getting to St. Charles literally hundreds of times! Great memories. I also lived in Rolla, and loved the wines coming out of St. James! Great lens! Congrats!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 4 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      This is a wonderful lens about one of my favorite places to spend a Sunday afternoon. I live in O'Fallon just a few miles from the wine country near Defiance and we often pack up some cheese and crackers and head for one of the wineries. It is such beautiful country. Love your photos. Blessed and Congrats on you LOTD.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      I've heard of the Katy Trail but I had no idea Missouri was so known for its wine. I'm in wine country too here in Northern Michigan but I've never biked through our wine country. Seems like that would be a lovely combination as long as one does not "taste" too much wine. ;-) Beautiful lens.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 4 years ago

      Not in Missouri. Beutiful.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 4 years ago

      Not in Missouri. Beutiful.

    • tobydavis profile image

      tobydavis 4 years ago

      What a lovely collection of photographs and memories - I love cycling :-) Wonderful lens!

    • dimitry168 profile image

      dimitry168 4 years ago

      I biked through the beachhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Thank you!!

    • hotsquid profile image

      hotsquid 4 years ago

      Beautiful trail and beautiful lens! Congrats!

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Hey Just Ramblin' and new to St. Louis. Congrats on the LOTD! I just got to be your 100th LIKE. I'm a native to St. Louis and an OLD Squid, so contact me if you'd like to have a Squid lunch sometime. I live in South County near Grant's Farm and know another Squid who lives in Chesterfield. We've talked of getting together for lunch one day but it has yet to happen. Maybe this springtime and maybe even in Missouri wine country. I used to be an avid biker, not so much anymore but I do have a bike. Best to you on Squidoo.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Looks like a terrific idea. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 4 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I first heard about the Katy Trail when I lived in Columbia, MO, and have visited some of the wineries in Missouri. Fun to see that you can bike the trail and visit the wineries as well.

      Congrats on your LOTD.

    • nick-gondoras profile image

      nick-gondoras 4 years ago

      That looks fun as heck!

    • profile image

      getupandgrow 4 years ago

      Your photos are beautiful. I've been to California's wine country, but never knew there were wineries in MIssouri. How fascinating-and many congrats on your LOTD.

    • profile image

      faye durham 4 years ago

      What an amazing combination - wine and biking. I have not done that but it sounds wonderful. Congrats on LOTD.

    • EbizTaxTips LM profile image

      EbizTaxTips LM 4 years ago

      Great lens! I live in Kansas City and love biking, but STILL haven't made it to the Katy Trail. Will have to make time for it this year, especially now that I know there is wine tasting involved ;)

    • espio007 profile image

      espio007 4 years ago

      I enjoy biking and the Katy trail looks like it would a great place to ride.

    • lvnash profile image

      lvnash 4 years ago

      I visit my daughter in St Louis and recognize the picture at Mt Pleasant Winery. One of my favorite places.

    • ConnieGreen LM profile image

      ConnieGreen LM 4 years ago

      This is something I've thought of doing, now I have the information and details I need - thanks!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 4 years ago

      Biking through wine country would definitely be something I would enjoy. Great job on the lens and congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      @justramblin: That's another good idea :-)

      Congrats for the LotD!!

    • profile image

      poutine 4 years ago

      I never did take this kind of bike trip, but it would be lovely to do.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 4 years ago

      Your lens is beautifully presented. No, I have not biked through wine country but have recently moved to a place where I can and look forward to doing so. Congratulations on LOTD!

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 4 years ago

      nice useful lens...well done...thanks for sharing; and congrats on LOTD

    • profile image

      NewUsedCarsSacramento 4 years ago

      First of all, congratulations on being the LOTD. Biking and Vineyards, what a heavenly idea. Also thanks for sharing the amazing images.

    • profile image

      NewUsedCarsSacramento 4 years ago

      First of all, congratulations on being the LOTD. Biking and Vineyards, what a heavenly idea. Also thanks for sharing the amazing images.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 4 years ago from USA

      Congratulations, this lens was selected as Lens of the Day today. You can read more about it here: http://hq.squidoo.com/lotd/lens-of-the-day-biking-...

    • Lucky Robby profile image

      Lucky Robby 4 years ago

      Interesting history with the Germans who settled in that region. Great lens!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I haven't but it looks like a beautiful place for cycling. Congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image

      MichaelDubrovnik 4 years ago

      Hello, I'm no biker but winer.

    • Sweetbunny LM profile image

      Sweetbunny LM 4 years ago

      What great fun! I will put on my places to visit!

    • profile image

      john9229 4 years ago

      Congrats LOTD. This looks wonderful and enjoyed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Congratulations for the LOTD!

    • DvdMovieGirl profile image

      DvdMovieGirl 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD I can see why you have been awarded this. Wonderful lens and great photographs all the way through.

    • DvdMovieGirl profile image

      DvdMovieGirl 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD I can see why you have been awarded this. Wonderful lens and great photographs all the way through.

    • myoyster1957 profile image

      myoyster1957 4 years ago

      Great lens, wish I had a bike trail like this one close by.

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 4 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      What a beautiful scenery on every single picture. This looks like a nice trip idea for a family too; enough activity for kids to get tired and more than enough wine for parents :) Thank you for taking me to Missoury wine country.

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      You made me want to go there - such a great place!

    • profile image

      Short_n_Sweet 4 years ago

      I've never really enjoyed biking...due to lack of wonderful places like Katy Trail mainly:-) Maybe I should first find an enjoyable and beautiful trail first... Really wonderful lens!

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 4 years ago

      I just found another place I need to visit on my next USA trip. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Beautiful place

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Beautiful lens! Congrats on LOTD

    • profile image

      dignit 4 years ago

      Thanks! My favorite vacation ever was a rails to trails ride around Virginia. If I can get in shape, I'm putting Missouri on the list.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I biked through the highlands of Scotland when I was young. That was hard going up and fast going down!

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Oh that looks like a great place to retire. I hope you'll enjoy it. You'll have lots of time to go bike riding on the KATY.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I would love to do a bike tour like that. I really like the wine too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      We are retiring near Cape Fair, and I keep inviting people to come bike the KATY trail. I will tell them to check this out!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

      I have never taken a bike trip, but thanks for sharing yours. It looks like you had a lot of fun. :)

    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      I am defintely not a biker, but I really enjoyed your article. I had no clue there were wineries in MO.

    • ologsinquito2 profile image

      ologsinquito2 4 years ago

      Great travel piece. It's interesting that wineries exist in Missouri. We don't hear too much about them.

    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      What a fantastic journey. I've never cycled through wine country but I did a short tour in Germany and discovered some amazing hidden treasures along the way. You've inspired me to do another trip, maybe with a hint of wine thrown in this time :-)

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @hmommers: Yes, it's a great trail for biking; you can go for days if you like.

    • justramblin profile image
      Author

      justramblin 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Oh Hermann is really nice. The Stone Hill Winery has a good tour. You'll like it. It's got a nice German feel. Hope you do ride the trail a bit, or at least take a walk. Thanks for dropping by and Happy Anniversary!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed your lens. I am working on a lens about Hermann, MO. where my wife and I will be spending a few days for our anniversary. I think we will check out the KT Trail.

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      It looks like real fun. But if I would bike that trail I shouldn't visit the vineyards in order to be able to finish the whole route :-D

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Beautiful lens on lovely part of the country! SquidAngel blessed, as well! ;-)

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 4 years ago from New Jersey

      No but it looks like so much fun! I love exploring the wineries in my local Northeast area. I would love to see the Missouri wineries some day as well.

    • LilyBird profile image

      LilyBird 4 years ago

      I love the intro photo. I never would have thought of vineyards in Missouri. Thanks for the info about the wine country and bike trail. Makes me want to get out on my bike, but I'll wait until the snow melts. :)