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Saturday, August 29, 2009
We landed in St. Louis around 8:30 p.m. We picked up our rental car and checked into our hotel, which was right next door to the rental car pick-up. We stayed at the Hilton St. Louis Airport. We booked a king suite, one-bedroom on the executive floor. The hotel had a beautiful lobby and the check-in process was smooth. The suite itself was nice but looked like something from Trading Spaces (the TLC show where people renovate a room with little money). That’s not to say it looked cheap but rather that was the style of the suite. It was a two-room suite – sort of. The living room had a wet bar and fridge, a table with four chairs, and a couch and chair, with a flat screen plasma TV. The wall between the living and bedroom areas did not go up to the ceiling but was more of a divider. Another plasma TV was mounted on the bedroom side of the wall. The king bed was comfortable and there was a long expanse along one wall that served as a desk. The weird part was the bathroom – it was easily one of the tiniest hotel bathrooms we have ever been in. It was obvious the vanity was new but the bathroom was so small that you couldn’t get in the tub/shower unless you shut the door most of the way. It was difficult to maneuver.
We had left home in the midst of a downpour which unfortunately got to our luggage as it was being loaded onto the plane. When we retrieved our luggage in St. Louis it was obvious it was wet. We spread out quite a bit of our clothing throughout the living room in an effort to dry it overnight (thankfully it worked).
Since it was on the late side, we went down to the bar and had drinks and appetizers. It was a Saturday night and the place was pretty crowded. Lori had fried ravioli and Keith had chicken tenders. We’d say it wasn’t spectacular but was better-than-average hotel fare, and the pours of wine were generous. We got some sambuca and took it back to our room.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
We had put in our order for room service breakfast the night before and it was delivered promptly by a smiling server. We decided this would be a good way to kick off our trip and we lingered over the food. We then checked out and loaded the car (a smaller SUV). We had brought along our GPS as this vacation involved plenty of driving, and we input the first destination. We also had satellite radio, which was wonderful as we didn’t have to worry about finding new stations as we drove.
On this day we had decided to visit wineries along the Missouri Weinstrasse. Our first stop was Montelle Winery, which claims to be Missouri’s most scenic winery. It certainly was pretty – there were plenty of tables outside and on this particular day there were blue skies with puffy white clouds, low humidity, and a forecast high only in the low 70s. The interior of the tasting room is long and sleek and patron-friendly. While we didn’t think these were the best wines we’d ever tasted, it is a nice place and is worth a visit. They have a café as well. We purchased a bottle of the Cynthiana (a red wine with a full body) as well as a pretty cool t-shirt with their logo.
Our next stop along the Weinstrasse was Sugar Creek Winery. This is the first winery we’ve visited that seems to be owned by Jimmy Buffett fans, as there was plenty of Parrothead indicators wherever we looked, as well as Buffett music playing (it’s on their website too). They had lots of tables outside – this is obviously a place people come on the weekends to drink wine and listen to music. It was well-planned. The tasting room by comparison was small and cramped. We prefer drier wines and liked the Chardonel (a blend of chardonnay and seyval) and Cynthiana (the red we tasted at Montelle). We didn’t linger outside as we had more places to stop.
Next stop along the Weinstrasse was Augusta Winery. The tasting room was on the main drag in the small town of Augusta. Here we liked the Chambourcin (red) and the Vidal Blanc (white). They advertise a beer garden which is really just a large covered patio up the hill. On this particular day it was overrun with a family with tons of kids so we got out of there quickly.
Our final Weinstrasse destination was Balducci Vineyards. By this time we were hungry and decided to have our lunch here. Again, it was a gorgeous day and Balducci has lots of tables strewn about a sloping lawn. We went inside the tasting room where we liked their dry whites: Vidal Blanc and Natalia. We got a bottle of chilled Natalia and ordered a thin crust pizza. We were given a beeper which went off when the pizza was ready and we could go back into the tasting room and pick it up. We really enjoyed the time we spent here. The only possible thing missing was music – either live or recorded, but it was nice and relaxing simply sitting and gazing at the scenery on this stunning day with some wine and good food.