by Fred McMillin
for February 12, 1999
Winery of the Week
Saint James Never Fails
Since this is Lincoln's birthday...
Mary Todd Lincoln, nine years younger than her husband, broke precedent by serving American wine at State affairs. This photo was taken only a few days before the ball described in this article.
Mrs. Abraham Lincoln began serving American wines
in the White House. (1861)
...Leon Adams, The Wines of America
Abraham Lincoln supporter, the distinguished
lawyer Gustave Koerner, served his most important
guests an American wine made from the Norton grape.
...Prof. Thomas Pinney, A History of Wine in America
During the Lincoln years, critic Charles
Brace wrote "no red wine has ever been produced
in America the equal of that made by the Germans
of Missouti from the Norton grape."
Oct. 21, 1998
The Rest of the Story
I have the menu for the second Lincoln Inauguration
Ball with sixty five choices. Alas, the wines are
not listed. Let's just say, the Norton should
have been there if it wasn't, which leads us to...
This Week's Winery
Appropriately, our winery was founded in Missouri
by a couple with a fine German name, Hofherr.
Their children run the St. James Winery today.
And they do a great job. It was ranked second in
the U.S.A. for highly awarded wines in the July
California Grapevine. As for their Norton wines,
the '94 Reserve won best Norton in the country
(Wine Enthusiast). Marketing Director Sheri
Hofherr tell me their Norton sales are at
an all-time high. Production now exceeds
40,000 cases and vineyards are being expanded.
Just the Facts
Name—St. James Winery
Address—540 Sidney St., St. James, Missouri, 65559
Contact—Call Sheri at (573) 265-7912
Founding— "We took our life savings and started
the winery in November 1970.
The very first day we knew we would make it
because we took in a whole $100!" (Pat, wife
of the late James Hofherr)
Grapes—St. James makes over 20 wines from a
wide variety of American and French hybrid
grapes, e.g., Delaware, Seyval Blanc, etc.
Some Other Hofherrs
||Winemaker (Enology degree from
||Vineyard Manager (U. Of Arkansas,
||Finance (Auburn, microbiology;
Georgia Tech, MBA)...some lineup. No wonder they are so
That Lincoln Inaugauration menu must have been
successful, too for "the crowd literally charged at the
refreshments and mobbed the supper tables." The caterer
was G.A. Balzer, paternal ancester of none other than one of our
favorite wine authorities, Robert Lawrence Balzer!
About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history
for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine
courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College.
In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred
with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded
to American wine writers.
More articles by
Welcome to WineDay, the electronic
Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday,
WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present
the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.
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