As trees and flowers wake up for a new season, their fragrance fills the air. Springtime scents inspire Missouri Life’s wine expert, Doug Frost, to seek out Missouri wines with the same intensity. Discover which spring wines he recommends.

Shutterstock, Freepik

Wines with Spring in Their Step

I remember my first trip to South Africa, although it was nearly 20 years ago. In my Midwestern mind, I had pictured Africa as hot, dry, and smelly. In reality, South Africa was the most redolent, aromatic landscape I’d ever visited. The aroma came from flowers—fragrant, wonderful flowers. It is said that there are more species of flora in that part of Africa than are contained in the entire Northern Hemisphere.

It was a shock how beautifully in-bloom everything was. It is like that for me in spring, even here. The sameness of the wet, sometimes icy streets and the frozen earth bereft of leaves and living grass alters, almost suddenly, or at least I notice it rather suddenly. The wet soil begins to harbor living things again. It’s fecund and earthy, and the rains that wake up the ground give rise to more than just the crocuses that always seem to wear a shroud of light snow. It’s as if I’ve been given a signal to smell things again.

I used to ignore smells, but can you blame me? I came from a family of all boys. There was nothing good to smell, I promise. But then I grew up and discovered wine, and it was like somebody granted me new powers.

Discovering the pleasure in my sense of smell happened because of my appreciation for wine, and wine brings it back again. Grapes like Traminette or Valvin Muscat exude the same heady intensity as new spring blooms—the same pungency and wild floral ferocity, at least at their best. Missouri makes many of the best.

A few people label their Valvin as “Moscato,” and that’s perfectly legal. Indeed, the Moscato and Valvin Muscat grapes share a lot in common. They sometimes share the same gentle sweetness, but increasingly winemakers are making dry or nearly dry versions of these grapes.

Let me be clear: Wines like these needn’t be dry in order to earn approval. Most people like sweet things, even if the wine industry has sometimes shamed people for enjoying anything other than bone-dry wines. For me, it doesn’t matter what you like as long as you figure it out and drink it.

But as the weather relents and nature buds out, I’m ready for bright and fresh flavors. I’m ready for wines with floral aromas. I’m ready for wines that taste like springtime.

Adam Puchta Traminette
Augusta Traminette Estate
Blumenhof Valvin Muscat
Defiance Ridge Katy’s Traminette
Les Bourgeois Vineyards Vignoles-Traminette
Montelle La Rosée
Mount Pleasant Villagio
St. James Vignoles
Stone Hill Traminette

Article originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of Missouri Life.