Vineyard owners Hank and Jackie JohnsonNative St. Louisans Hank and Jackie Johnson own Chaumette Vineyard, which began with humble beginnings.
Have Wine, Will Stay
A spa, overnight villas, and other services weren’t part of the original plan for Chaumette Vineyard and Winery when native St. Louisans Hank and Jackie Johnson bought the property at Ste. Genevieve in 1990. “We bought the land with retirement in mind, and then I became interested in grape growing,” Hank explains. Chaumette’s inaugural vintage was released in 2002, and many friends asked the Johnsons to build a tasting room to visit, so they did. They responded similarly when friends and customers asked for a place to eat, relax, and stay, and “that’s how our winery destination came to be,” Hank says.
Chaumette’s tasting room is spacious with a rustic elegance that is as inviting as the tasting room’s wine educator Dick Jones. It is difficult to decide what to do first: stop by the bar to taste wine with Dick, peruse the gift shop, or follow the culinary aromas coming from the Grapevine Grill Restaurant.
The wine portfolio is diverse and produced by veteran Missouri wine-maker Mark Baehmann. Five grapes are grown on 32 acres of grapevines, producing varietal wines and blends from Norton, Vignoles, Chaumbourcin, Traminette, and Chardonel.
Chaumette’s wines vary in style from bone-dry to sweet, and the winery also offers a port, the wine style for which Mark has received the most Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast accolades in his 29-year career.
“We are very proud of our wine portfolio, because we believe that every one of our wines is an example of excellence of its particular wine style,” Hank says. “Though our dry wines predominate in sales, it is important to us that our wines appeal to every palate and pair well with food.”
Amenities are abundant at Chaumette, and overnight guests can relax in one of 10 elegant villas that are designed with cherry wood inlaid floors, full kitchens with granite countertops, and fireplaces. Guests can enjoy the full-service spa, which offers massage, skin, and nail treatments, a fitness center, an indoor sauna, and an outdoor pool with private cabanas during warmer months.
Chaumette’s restaurant offers lunch, dinner, and breakfast for villa guests, and Executive Chef Adam Lambay crafts his dishes to complement Chaumette’s wines. Adam’s contemporary American fare includes dishes with French, Indian, Asian, Caribbean, and Italian influences, and he uses local foods whenever possible. The Chaumette Chicken is a spin on the classic French dish coq au vin: half of a Ladd Farm chicken braised in Chambourcin wine with Yukon gold potatoes and mushrooms. An- other favorite is the eggplant fries, lightly breaded and seasoned slices of eggplant served with lemon horseradish cream.
Chaumette launched a cooking class series this winter hosted by Adam and his professionally trained sous chef Dan Linza. The class, which is held in Chaumette’s recently expanded kitchen, teaches the culinary tricks and secrets from Adam’s Indian heritage and Dan’s Caribbean culinary background.
It’s also difficult to decide what to do after eating and sampling wines— hiking on nearby trails, fishing in Chaumette’s ponds, or enjoying views of the Saline Creek Valley. The winery sits along the Route du Vin, Ste. Genevieve’s wine trail, comprised of Chaumette and five other wineries. www.chaumette.com