Augusta Harvest Festival this weekend

Photo courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism

Augusta Harvest Festival, September 16-17, kicks off with “Swinging in the Vines,” a gourmet picnic at Honey Bee Vineyard. The festival continues in Augusta Town Square with a parade, pie contest, live music, children’s activities, and more. The Fruit of the Harvest Dinner on Saturday night is a five-course meal with wine pairings at Mount Pleasant Estates.

Once again, Augusta is positioned to be a major player in the wine industry. David and Jerri Hoffmann, natives of nearby Washington and owners of the Hoffmann Family of Companies announced in January 2021 their plan to invest more than $100 million in the Augusta area to make it an international wine tourism destination. Less than two years later, the speed of the Hoffmanns’ project is stunning. The investment is up to an estimated $150 million. Changes seem to occur almost weekly.

The Hoffmann Family of Companies has purchased wineries, vineyards, bike shops, a nursery, and landscape businesses, a bakery, and a tour bus company in nearby Washington, more than a dozen buildings in downtown Augusta, and the former Emmaus Home campus near Marthasville, which they plan to transform into an 18-room boutique hotel as well as staff housing for the Augusta properties. A planned 65-room Hoffman Lodge and Conference Center will open in late 2023 or early 2024 in Augusta. The company is building a 500-seat amphitheater and outdoor stage at Balducci Vineyards, as well as a 12-hole golf course. A luxury tour yacht, Miss Augusta, currently offers cruises on the Missouri River out of St. Charles. It will eventually move to Augusta between a dock in Klondike Park and Washington, once a dock is completed. 

The most visible changes are the new paint jobs on the four Hoffmann-owned wineries and the color-coded vintage pick-up trucks stationed around town at various Hoffmann properties. The buildings at Mount Pleasant Estates are now pink, Augusta Winery is red, Montelle Winery boasts yellow, and Balducci Vineyards is a distinctive orange. There’s a free trolley running frequently between the various Hoffmann properties and horsedrawn carriage and wagon ride around town on weekends. You can opt for an ATV tour that takes you behind the scenes to learn what it takes to produce wine, from the vineyards to the cellars.

The Hoffmanns have deep roots in the area. David attended Washington High School and Jerri attended St. Francis Borgia High School in Washington. They now have a home in St. Albans.

The Hoffmanns’ corporate vision is to “revitalize the charm and history of Augusta and the surrounding Washington area, making it a destination rivaling the nation’s most prestigious wine regions.” The family has been credited with the revitalization of the downtown areas of Naples, Florida; Winnetka, Illinois; and Avon, Colorado; and are the largest private real estate owners in each.

Jim Anderson, executive director of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board has been following the changes in the Augusta area with interest. “The Augusta wine region has been a well-kept secret in some aspects, even though it is home to the country’s first AVA. We are hopeful the expanded agritourism opportunities in Augusta will show the rest of the country what Missourians have known for years—the wine is exquisite, and the region has breathtaking views with so much to offer.”

Blumenhof Winery is not part of the Hoffman group of wineries, but Eric says his family’s winery appreciates the attention the area has been getting thanks to the Hoffmans’ investment. “The only real challenge so far is making sure people know we’re an independent, family-owned winery. We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last 35 years.”

The pride in family ownership is a sentiment shared by Christine Newbold, business manager of Noboleis Vineyards. Her parents purchased the land for their winery in 2005, drawn by Augusta’s designation as the first AVA, and planted 10 acres of grapes that same year. The vineyard has expanded to 18 acres and opened a tasting room in the years since. Christine is glad that others see what her parents recognized when they chose Augusta.

“This is such an amazing area, and I don’t think people have totally appreciated it,” she says. “Having someone come into this area and want to improve it is a great thing. You’re going to have people who struggle with the change, but I think overall they [the Hoffmans] are trying to bring attention to this area.”


Photo courtesy of Barbara Gibbs Otsmann

Wine isn’t Augusta’s only attraction. The town’s History Museum, housed in a two-level brick building at 275 Webster Street is worth a stop. The home was built in 1861 by August and Catherine Sehrt, immigrants from Hannover, Germany. It is one of eight buildings on the National Historic Register in Augusta. August was a carpenter who built furniture and caskets in the downstairs stone-walled workroom, while Catherine cared for their two boys and eight girls. They grew grapes and fruit trees on the eight acres around the house. At Christmas time, the museum is usually open with special holiday exhibits.

Centennial Farms, 199 Jackson Street, is open on weekends seasonally with various fruits, berries, and vegetables for sale. The farm was established in 1821 and has been owned by the Knoernschild family since 1854. The sixth generation is now working at the farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original log house, built around 1835, has been restored.

The Katy Trail is a huge draw for Augusta. The 238-mile rails-to-trails linear state park runs across the state from Machens to Clinton and draws cyclists, walkers, and joggers. The 32-mile-marker at the site of the former MKT Railroad Station in Augusta is reached by taking Public Street down the hill to the river bottom. The dining scene in Augusta continues to expand and improve, as most wineries include eateries. Other cafes, restaurants, and coffee shops have popped up in town to serve residents and visitors.

In addition to the four Hoffman-owned wineries—Mount Pleasant Estates, Augusta Winery, Montelle Winery, and Balducci Vineyards—there is Noboleis Vineyards on the edge of town, Blumenhof Winery in Dutzow, Sugar Creek Winery in Defiance, and Lake Creek Winery in Marthasville.



Photo courtesy of Barbara Gibbs Otsmann

Augusta Events

Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival, October 1, takes place at the ball field on Water Street. Admission includes a commemorative glass, live music, and tastings from more than 30 area breweries.

Halloween Open House, October 31, runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Visitor’s Center at 5577 Walnut Street. Costumes are optional.

Candlelight Christmas Walk, December 2 and 9, from 5-10 p.m., features more than 1,000 luminaries that light up the downtown area. At this 40th annual event, you can stroll through the streets or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the square. Santa Claus will make an appearance on both Fridays. Warm yourself by the bonfire on the square between shopping excursions to the many stores open especially for the event. Restaurants, wineries, and churches will sell food, and there will be chestnuts roasting by an open fire under the watchful eyes of the Augusta Fire Department.

Holiday House Tour, December 3, runs 1-6 p.m. with tour stops that include five homes and a wine tasting.

Christmas Trivia Night, December 10, takes place from 6-9:30 p.m. at the Augusta Harmonie Verein Hall, 5333 Hackman Road. Gather your team of eight and brush up on your holiday trivia.

All the activities are sponsored by the Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce. For details, pricing, and registration, visit or call 636-228-4005.

To see the full story in Missouri Life September 2022 issue, find it on newsstands or call 573-514-5453.