The town of Hermann is established by German immigrants.
Hard work and passion passed down through generations
Before there was Napa, the German winemaking traditions were thriving at Stone Hill Winery.
As the nation’s second-largest winery, we were distributing to the world; our Norton wine was even a favorite at the White House. After Prohibition, our industrious pioneers Jim and Betty brought our winery back to life and helped revive the wine industry outside of California.
In 1847, German immigrant Michael Poeschel sold his first barrels of commercial wine, officially founding what would become Stone Hill Winery.
Leading the region’s wine industry, it was Missouri’s largest winery up until Prohibition. The famous cellars, the largest of their kind in the nation, were completed in 1869, a year before Missouri became the largest wine-producing state.
As the winery grew, so did its accolades.
Winning top honors in 8 World’s Expos between 1873 and 1915, the winery gained international prominence in the world of wine. Our Norton wine was declared the “Best Red Wine of All Nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair in 1873, showcasing to the world that American grapevines had the ability to create great wines. Successful salesmen turned business partners William Herzog and George Stark helped grow the winery to become the second-largest winery in the country.
“Hermann promises to become not merely the most prolific vineyards of the United States, but also those yielding the best wines.” – Henry Vizetelly, 19th-Century Wine Commentator, 1873, Reporting on Stone Hill Winery’s “Best Red of All Nations” Norton
As the winery continued to produce exceptional wine, the nation moved toward Prohibition.
With World War I came anti-German sentiment, which hurt the traditionally German alcohol industry in Missouri, slowing growth.
With the end of the war, the temperance movement started to dominate politics and eventually succeeded with Prohibition being ratified in 1919 and enacted in 1920. George Stark’s sons were forced to shutter the winery and order the vineyards to be destroyed. In 1923, the cellars were transformed into a mushroom farm which would continue under Bill and Mary Harrison until wine could once again find a home in their halls.
A New Start
Bill and Mary were historical preservationists with a dream to see a renewed Stone Hill Winery succeed.
They heard of the Held’s vineyard and started courting them to try out the wine business. Jim and Betty were reluctant to uproot their family. Bill saw the potential for a successful winery once more, however, and with persistent encouragement, convinced Jim and Betty to give the wine business a shot.
IN THE BEGINNING
In 1965, local farmers Jim and Betty Held were given a chance.
They moved into the remnants of the original winery with their four young children in tow, beginning the long restoration of the deteriorated old-world buildings and vaulted underground cellars. Jim and Betty went to work on their primary task: producing and marketing the finest wines and putting Hermann and Missouri back on the map as a world-class wine-producing area.
A Global Outlook
With a global outlook, Jim and Betty hosted their first international intern in 1971.
This started the tradition of training international winemaking fellows which continues to this day. In 1978, the Held’s were looking to upgrade their wine quality. That year, Dave Johnson joined the team as head winemaker and would stay with us for the next forty years and become one of America’s most awarded winemakers. In 1983, eldest child Jon rejoined his family’s business as Vineyard Manager after studying viticulture and enology in California and working internationally for Swiss and Canadian wineries. Throughout these years, our wines found wide acclaim in the industry, prompting renowned wine critic Gerald Asher to declare that our Norton is the “indigenous grape that might yet do for Missouri what Cabernet Sauvignon has done for California.”
A HIstory of Success
Their subsequent success gained them repeated recognition throughout the past 50 years.
The winery was named Missouri’s Small Business of the Year, with President Reagan presenting the award to Jim and Betty at the White House Rose Garden. Hermann became one of the nation’s first federally designated American Viticultural Areas in 1983 due to its distinct grape-growing geography and our legacy. Our winery also found honors with Dave Johnson and Jon Held being named Winemaker of the Year and Winegrower of the Year by Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine in 1994 respectively. The Held family was declared the Wine Growing Family of the Year at the Wineries Unlimited 20th Anniversary Symposium.
Continuing to Grow
The 90s and 00s were characterized by growth in wine production and vineyards.
In 2005, our current head winemaker, Shaun Turnbull joined our team. With new vineyards planted, a new bottling line in place, and a new press house, our commitment to exceptional modern winemaking and grape-growing was cemented.
The business is now owned by Jon and his wife, Karen.
Winning the highest honors for our wines year after year across all our wine styles, we continue to be dedicated to producing the highest quality wines from our Missouri grapes. Today, Stone Hill Winery is Missouri’s oldest and most awarded winery. Winning thousands of awards including the Governor’s Cup (Best Wine in Missouri) repeatedly, Stone Hill Winery has consistently ranked among the nation’s top award winners.
Our family will remain committed to producing the best American heritage and hybrid varietal wines available while proudly championing our region.
The town of Hermann is established by German immigrants.
Michael Poeschel establishes our winery
Michael Poeschel takes on John Scherer as a partner.
George Stark (Starck) arrives in Hermann and is employed by Stone Hill Wine Co.
The underground cellars are completed.
Missouri, due in large part to Stone Hill Winery, is the #1 wine-producing state
William Herzog immigrates to America moving directly to Hermann where he becomes a traveling salesman for Stone Hill Wine Co.
Winner of Gold and Best of Show Medals from 8 World’s Fairs competitions.
George Stark and William Herzog buy the majority interest in the business in 1878, buying it completely in 1883. In 1894 Stark becomes sole owner.
Stone Hill Winery is the nation's second-largest winery producing over 1,250,000 gallons annually.
U.S. Battleship Missouri, BB11, is christened with a special bottle of Stone Hill Wine Co. “Pearl of Missouri”, extra dry champagne.
When Prohibition goes into effect, the Starks sell the winery. In 1923, the cellars are converted to mushroom farms.
Bill and Mary Harrison purchase the shuttered winery and continue growing white button mushrooms in the cellars.
Leon James "Jim" Held and Betty Ann Meyer get married.
Jim and his brother plant their first grapevines, 4 1/2 acres of Catawba grapes in Pershing, MO.
Bill Harrison begins discussions with Jim Held about restoring the winery.
Jim and Betty purchase the Kemperberg vineyard site and plant 7 acres of Catawba and 1 acre of Vidal and Seyval grapes.
Jim and Betty, along with their four small children, leave their farm in Pershing, Missouri, and start restoring Stone Hill Winery -- that fall they make their first 1200 gallons of wine. We produce the first Norton wine since Prohibition from the Rauch Vineyard civil war era ½ acre of Norton.
Jim and Betty begin selling their first vintage of wine on Maifest Saturday.
Our first of many international interns, Seung Ke Ra from South Korea, helps with harvest and winemaking.
Jim and Betty purchase the entire winery property. And in '69 Norton vines are planted at Kemperberg Vineyard and the winery is designated a National Historic District..
Dave Johnson joins Stone Hill Winery as winemaker and convinces Jim to focus on wine excellence.
Our Vintage 1847 Restaurant is opened.
Main Building Rehab is started to address severely deteriorated brick walls and rusted, leaking roof.
Jon returns from international winemaking work to become Vineyard Manager.
Jon provides Dennis Horton, a Hermannite who became a vinter in Virginia, with Norton vines so he can start growing the varietal in its birthplace
Our Press House is built.
1995 Cross J Vineyard is planted. 1999 Weingarten Vineyard is planted. 2000 Rocky Top Vineyard is planted.
Norton becomes the Official State Grape of Missouri.
Morre Vineyard planted.
Shaun Turnbull joins our winemaking team after Jon meets with him in South Africa.
Installed our new state-of-the-art Italian bottling line with 120 bottles per minute capacity.
A full circle moment when the USS Missouri (SSN-780) submarine is christened with Stone Hill Wine Co. Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine.
2013, 2014, 2017
Our Norton is awarded the Trifecta: Governor's Cup, CV Riley Award, and Best of Class.
Jon and Karen become sole owners of our winery.
Over 5000+ Medals & Awards
Our team is key to our success.
It is their grit, passion, and dedication that allows us to do what we do.