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Surprisingly, considering such a cold start to the day, it warmed up quickly. Still below freezing, but not freezingly freezing.

So I took a drive out west to Route 94 in St. Charles County and ended up in Dutzow at the Blumenhof Winery.

I like this vineyard. There are two basic types of winery in this area of Missouri. One kind is extravagant and grandiose, with a large hosting area and a very upmarket facade. The fairly new Chandler Hill Winery is a good example of this. The other kind is modest, homely and folksy in appearance. The Blumenhof is a good example of this type. You can get the flavor by looking at their respective webpages. The Blumenhof page is positively retro in look, the Chandler Hill gleams with enticing come-ons.

I stopped by the Chandler Hill winery a few weeks ago. Inside a barn-sized reception area, a coiffed bar-tender offered me a tasting and then told me how much it would cost. I glanced through the wine list before turning him down as everything there was over $20 a bottle. Inside the Blumenhof today, a friendly and neat, but not overdressed, woman offered me a tasting for free. A fire burned in the small, pub-like, tasting room and no one looked like they were there just to be seen. Unlike the middle-aged gentleman driving his Porsche up to Chandler Hill with a very young looking woman by his side that I noted as I left, with relief, that cavernous institution. Wines at the Blumenhof are priced at $8 a bottle and up, and, judging by the prizes the winery has won, are probably just as good and most likely better than those served at its more shiny rival.

I bought some wine to take home. Excellent and cheap.

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