When talking about touring vineyards and wine country, a lot of people tend to think of far off places like Italy, France, or even California. Most people don’t think, where can I get great wine...I know, Missouri!
But really when you think about it, it makes total sense! Here in the 573 we’re blessed with clean beautiful land, rich soil, and a plethora of fabulous wineries that grow and source all of their sweet fresh ingredients from local vineyards. You may have seen the rows of berries from the road while driving out on one of our beautiful rural highways...there’s actually a lot more than you’d think.
Today we had the pleasure of visiting a beautiful small vineyard nestled in a breathtaking valley off the beaten path.
Meet the Bilhorns
Terre Noire Vineyards has been cultivating since 2005. A small family owned vineyard, Terre Noire supplies grapes for both Charleville & Chaumette wineries. Owned and operated by The Bilhorns, Terre Noire honors the traditional harvest jubilee by inviting friends and family to spend the morning helping with the grapes, and the afternoon eating, drinking, and being merry.
When we arrived early Saturday morning, the harvest was already in full swing. People were laughing and chatting as they cut. Wide-eyed children radiated with awe as they relished their new experience. Dogs were running around playing and getting the occasional pat on the head...it felt like pure peace, joy, and plenty.
A family affair, Jim and Barb Bilhorn invite their grown children, their families, and any friends willing to come lend a hand and soak up some good old fashioned 573 hospitality. After the work is done, all the harvest volunteers are fed a grand feast complete with fine wine and sweet company.
"We have about 40 people. The lunch menu includes bratwurst, Sugarfire brisket, cornbread onion bake, potato casserole, watermelon, homemade slaw, chips and lots of desserts!
“The job goes pretty fast with 40 people” Barb laughed. “We start around 9 AM and usually try to be done by lunch around 1.”
Forty people?! How do you recruit that many hands? Where do they come from? And how did they all hear about this? The same way we did...through the Grapevine!
Jim & Nancy Sauer
Nick & Casey Zurweller with little Tess
First timers, Nick and Casey Zurweller bring their young daughter Tess to help with harvest and build fond memories.
Eleanore Bilhorn & her niece/partner in crime, Eloise
Daughter of Jim and Barbie Bilhorn, Eleanore has always been a big supporter of her parents and Terre Noire Vineyards. Many of the first timers we met were recruited by Eleanore from her university classes.
Marjorie & Dr. Kenneth Smith
Dear friends of Barb & Jim, Dr. Ken Smith and his wife Marjorie have been coming to the harvest jubilee at Terre Noire since the Bilhorns began in 2005.
We love coming out here...
"We're from St. Louis so we think this is great! We love coming out here and have hardly missed a picking in many years of harvest. We've been coming for more than 15 years, well, ever since they started really!
It is always a wonderful experience picking the beautiful grapes at one of our favorite places with many friends. The food is always outstanding as is the hospitality and delightful front porch."
Mona & Parker Nunez
First-timers, Mona and Parker enjoy the harvest and the beautiful day. One of Eleanore’s many classmates here today, Mona was happy to accept her friend’s invitation and excited to share the new experience with her family.
"I am original from Thailand and my husband was from Mexico." Mona told 573. "Today I brought my father in law, my husband and my two sons- Preston age 9 and Parker age 6. We all had a great time! Lunch was delicious. Everything was very good, and we're looking forward to coming back next harvest. "
"I’m originally from St Louis but my husband and I moved down here 11 years ago. We’ve been picking grapes for the Bilhorns for, well, 11 years now, although unfortunately my husband is unable to do it anymore.
The question of who I had with me makes me smile. We are pretty much the same people every year so I had all my friends with me! We see them at the wineries all year round as well and some we socialize with more often than that.
And lunch, as usual, was great."
That was only a few of the friendly faces that dotted the rows of vines between the overflowing clumps of plump fresh grape clusters.
"We had wine, both red (Ours plus other reds) and white, mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio with some Rose." The Bilhorns later told 573 Magazine. "People stayed til late afternoon, but picking was over by 12:00 Noon!"
Today's experience was different from any tasting or tour you could ever attend. The good pure happiness that drifted upon the perfect fall air, the unusually green rolling hills cradling the little vine covered valley, the laughter of the children that danced with the music lingering in the breeze as we enjoyed the fellowship that brightened the whole valley...it was simply intoxicating in the warmest, most wonderful way. A must try experience.
Get out there!