Courtesy of Chaumette Vineyards and Winery
Chaumette Vineyards and Winery
Hank Johnson, owner of Chaumette Vineyards and Winery, focuses on the science and techniques that produce the best wines, and he passes that expertise on to his guests.
By Taylor Fox
At Chaumette Vineyards and Winery in Ste. Genevieve, wine tasting is about more than just choosing a new favorite wine; it’s an educational experience for customers. Behind the tasting room bar, Chaumette employees can answer questions from grape variety to shade of the wine’s color. “They’re not just bartenders; they’re wine educators,” owner Hank Johnson says.
Hank, who doubles as an adjunct professor in the Agribusiness and Horticulture Department of Mineral Area College in Park Hills, teaches how wine grapes make it into a glass.
“Seventy-five percent of what ends up in your wine glass happens in the vineyard—not in the winery,” he says.
“I planted more and then studied more,” Hank says. “My real love is in the vineyard.”
In addition to tasting education, the Chaumette kitchen becomes a cooking school during the winter, and the vineyards have partaken in multiple experiments with different universities across Missouri. In conjunction with Missouri State University-Mountain Grove, they planted and studied thirty-five Eastern European grape varieties, testing their ability to grow in Missouri’s climate and yield quality wines.
In 2001, Hank hired a wine maker to produce the six thousand cases of wine made at Chaumette each year so that he could focus on raising the vines and teaching people how to be knowledgeable wine consumers.
Hank says consumers should focus on wines that are multi-dimensional as opposed to one-dimensional sweet wines.
“Sugar will cover up almost any defect,” Hank says, explaining why Chaumette does not, and will not, make sweet wines. Rather, he says, that his operation focuses on creating wines that are bold, complex, and balanced.
Chaumette Vineyards and Winery is located at 24345 State Route WW in Ste. Genevieve. It is open year-round for wine tastings, dinners, and special events. For more information, call 573-747-1000, or visit chaumette.com.