Napa Valley may have the better wine, but if you're seeking a trip to rolling countryside and gorgeous vineyards, there's no need to fly to San Francisco first. A trip to the heart of Missouri wine country is only a short drive away in Hermann, a German settlement-turned-wine-haven located off Missouri 94 in the Missouri River Valley. Here you'll find the Hermann Wine Trail (312 Market Street, Hermann; 573-486-2744), a network of seven family-owned wineries, each with its own unique qualities, specialties and history. The group collectively sells about 200,000 gallons of wine each year, about one-third of all sales of Missouri wine. Despite those achievements, Hermann is a far cry from a tourist trap. Blissfully free from kitschy commercialism, Hermann will make you feel like you've stepped into the past, with locally owned shops and quaint bed and breakfasts lining the pedestrian-friendly streets and a trolley providing transportation around town. You can also enjoy traditional festivities such as Hermann's month-long Oktoberfest and the themed wine trail events that mark the calendar all year long (the "Wild Bacon Wine Trail," anyone?). Be sure to pause in the midst of the good times and look up from your wine glass to enjoy the view. This may not be California, but that's just fine by us — this place is beautiful all on its own, and it's a much shorter drive, too.
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