Chaumette Vineyards & Winery in the rolling hills of Missouri’s Ste. Genevieve County is home to award-winning wines, gourmet cuisine, a chalet-like tasting room, charming wedding venues, historic buildings, a fitness center with outdoor swimming pool, and luxury rustic villas.
Beginning this summer, you can add hiking center to the list.
Hank Johnson, who owns and operates the property with his wife, Jackie, envisions a future where Chaumette serves as the hub for outdoor enthusiasts visiting the region’s world-class trails, which include those at nearby Hawn State Park, Pickle Springs Natural Area, Hickory Canyons Natural Area, John J. Audubon Trail, and Charleville Trail, which is under construction.
“During the spring, summer, and fall, we see a good number of people who stay with us and go hiking at one or more of these five trails,” said Johnson, “and ours.”
As Johnson notes, Chaumette has hiking trails of its own that span the winery’s 370 verdant acres. The Norton Trail is a 3-mile loop that starts down the hill from the tasting room and winds through the timbered hills, passing a scenic lake and an arboretum atop a high ridge with sweeping views.
The Chardonel Trail is an out-and-back route that leads to neighboring Charleville Vineyard & Microbrewery. The trip to and from Chaumette will take you about 1.5 miles total for now, with the possibility of adding more distance around the Charleville property as the season progresses.
Both trails offer a mix of gravel path, old logging road, and rugged singletrack, with some steep climbs that will have you sucking for air. Chaumette and its trails are family- and pet-friendly.
Launching in May, a “dining on the trail” program at Chaumette combines food, wine, and hiking along the property’s Norton Trail. Here’s how it works: Guests book a reservation with the winery and choose from a menu of meal packages that include handcrafted entrees such as turkey wrap, chicken salad sandwich, Italian wrap, mixed green salad with choice of protein, salmon niçoise, or pasta salad — plus side items.
“This is no trail mix,” said Hank. “We’re proud of our food, and the food is a major part of this program. We’re going to make sure it’s special.”
Upon arrival at Chaumette, the guests check in at the hiking center and are given a backpack containing their food and “hopefully they buy a bottle or two of wine to take with them,” said Hank. With trail map in hand, guests set out on a self-guided hike through the vineyard hillsides until they reach their reserved picnic site with table and chairs.
Once the guests have finished their picnic-style meal, they continue hiking the Norton loop until they return back to the tasting room, where they hand back in their backpack. (Note: While the hiking trails are open to all winery visitors, the picnic sites are available by reservation only.)
Similar “wiking” programs exist in Pacific Northwest and California wineries and have proven popular with visitors there.
“I think our hiking trails help differentiate us from other wineries,” said Hank, “but our overall desire is to establish Chaumette as a hiking center not only with our own trails but other trails around Sainte Genevieve. We want to be a part of attracting new outdoor lovers to the area.”
Hank hopes that visitors will spend the night at Chaumette while exploring the region’s outdoor assets, if not in one of the property’s individual suites or villas, then maybe in an RV.
The winery has partnered with Harvest Hosts, a membership program that provides RV enthusiasts the opportunity to stay on site in their own recreational vehicle while enjoying all that the winery has to offer. Neither tent camping nor campfires are allowed.
For more information about pricing and reservations, contact Chaumette Vineyards & Winery at 573-747-1000 or visit chaumette.com.
Nearby Hiking Trails
Hawn State Park: Voted favorite hiking area in our Readers’ Choice Awards, it features several trails ranging from 2 to 10 miles, with pristine pine forests, sand-bottom streams, high cliffs, and well-marked paths.
Pickle Springs Natural Area: This park’s Trail Through Time can be hiked in an hour and takes you into a narrow slot canyon, through double rock arches, across its eponymous creek, and up to a panoramic bluff.
Hickory Canyons Natural Area: Two trails include a short out-and-back to a 40-foot waterfall in a steep-walled horseshoe canyon and a 1-mile loop that circumnavigates tall sandstone bluffs.
John J. Audubon Trail: A 12-mile loop established as a memorial pilgrimage through the wilderness area that Audubon visited on his wide-ranging bird collecting trips while living in Ste. Genevieve.
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.