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Chandler Hill Vineyards: Delightful State-Of-Mind Wine And Dine Experiences

Defiance is known as the Show Me gateway to wineries and wine, because this St. Charles County area marks the beginning of Missouri's Wine Country Trail that extends through Augusta, Dutzow, Marthasville, Hermann and beyond. If Defiance is the entrance to this type of recreation, then Chandler Hill Vineyards is one of the most alluring comfort destinations on this trail. 

Consumers typically consider three main attributes -- food/beverage quality, ambience and service -- when choosing where to dine, relax and celebrate. As one of the area's most picturesque wineries that offers award-winning Missouri wines as well as West Coast varietals, the dedicated team at Chandler Hill Vineyards has worked diligently to make all three of those attributes be topnotch offerings, all hosted on immaculately manicured vineyards and grounds.

Current owners of Chandler Hill proclaim they set a goal to create a Midwest winery like no other. Construction began in 2007 with building a winery idyllically on a hilltop. "The essence of Chandler Hill is understated elegance," says Jeff Wuerstl, general manager of the winery. "From the tasting room to our 5,000-square-foot deck overlooking our vineyards, spring-fed lake, rolling hills and the inspiring Osage Femme Valley teeming with wildlife, Chandler Hill is an enchanting year-round destination."

Painstakingly crafted from authentic materials and boasting signature details, such as celestial sky lights, Chandler Hill has the power to whisk visitors away to a special emotional place. 

Staffers there invested a large effort into creating better and safe guest experiences, based on adjustments for COVID-19 health protocols, including quickly adding 25 picnic tables throughout the 40-acre property to enable visitors to spread out while outdoors. For 2021, they're offering more vineyard seating and quick serve stations with outside servers from which to purchase wine, beer and food to then take somewhere on the property. At press time, they were refreshing their entire lower patio area for safe, outdoor serving this spring. 

Just around the corner, it's uplifting to think about where to head as the weather warms. 

Munch At Chandler Hill Vineyards' Sunday Brunch

Brunch at the winery is served on Sundays between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Their regular lunch menu also is served until 4 p.m. on Sundays, during which the restaurant's popular brisket burgers with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and roasted aioli on brioche buns are available. Mimosas and Bloody Marys are available, in addition to wines and other beverages.

Chandler Hill's Sunday Brunch currently features a new, a la carte menu:

  • Create your own omelet
  • Classic eggs benedict
  • Steak and eggs
  • Mini bagels and lox with yogurt parfait
  • French toast
  • Avocado toast

brunch must-try selections:

  • Baked Goat Cheese (goat cheese whipped with herbs, honey, pecans, served with lavash and pita)
  • Crab Cake Benedict (English muffin, crab cake, poached egg, hollandaise, breakfast potatoes)
  • Croque Madame (Texas toast, swiss cheese, ham, béchamel sauce, over-easy egg, breakfast potatoes)

brunch plates to share

  • Table Spreads contains dill dip, hummus and red pepper feta served with fresh vegetables, crostini and grilled pita.
  • Meritage Board provides three specialty cheeses and cured meats, dried fruits, nuts, lavash, crostini and brown sugar mustard.
  • Artisan Cheese Plate showcases three quality cheeses, grapes, nuts, sliced crostini and lavash.
  • Soft-baked, lightly salted Bavarian pretzels served with smoked bacon Dijon cheese sauce.

A rotating selection of desserts tops off Sunday Brunches.

Introducing Chandler Hill's New Marigold 'Orange' Wine

Luckily, there's a refreshing, brand-new clean wine that pairs well with Chandler Hill Sunday Brunch food options. This wine has some people asking:  Is orange the new white?

Orange wines, also known as skin-contact wines or amber wines, are made from white grapes. They possess both the flavors of white varieties with the texture and tannins common to red wine, as a result of grape skins being allowed to ferment with the pressed juice.

The practice of creating orange wines reportedly dates back hundreds of years in Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and thousands of years in the Eastern European wine-producing country of Georgia. The practice was repopularized by Italian and Slovenian winemakers. Skin-fermented white wines were common in Italy up until the 1950s and 1960s, but fell out of fashion when fresh white wines started dominating the market.

Enter "Marigold" from Chandler Hill, just introduced a few months ago.

"While it's a newer style of wine to us as contemporary wine lovers, it's actually a version of one of the oldest ways in the world to make wine," says Charles Miller, Chandler Hill Vineyards assistant general manager and wine manager. 

He says Marigold is a white wine with increased flavor and aroma, and a bit of "different texture" due to the tannins and the lovely balance of floral tones -- perfect for spring flings.

"Marigold is not your typical white. It has tropical notes and includes a white peach flavor as well. It's zesty and its tad of tartness and noticeable body matches many types of food selections," adds Charles, who led the Marigold creation project.

Due to color, the popular term "orange wine" was coined in 2004 by a British wine importer, David Harvey.

Charles, who also is a sales consultant with the Vin Fraîche Wine Group, says Marigold was named based on its unique hue, aroma and taste. "Our team has a deep, overall love for nature, and for Marigold, we started with that and then cued off of the floral qualities of this Vignoles. We also wanted to produce a beautiful label to prompt attention for this new wine." 

Yin and Yang For Spring

Chandler Hill reflects a magical backdrop and pleasing products. Just ask Michael Kennedy, who is one of the managing partners of the winery on its board of directors, too. He also founded Component Wine Company in Napa Valley. However, Michael got his true start in Defiance with a job in the Chandler Hill Vineyards tasting room. He worked his way into becoming the Chandler Hill director of wine, and became a certified sommelier not long after.

"When I want a white wine with some guts to bridge me through red wine-style-fatigue at the end of a season, orange wine can do that job perfectly," assures Michael. "You should approach orange wines with enthusiasm and an open mind, and not expect them to be like the white wines or rosés that you know. Allow orange wines to be the aromatic, textural and genre-expanding wines that they are.”

When Michael's family is in St. Louis, he says they love to go to Chandler Hill. "It really is reminiscent of Napa Valley. In fact, whenever I post pictures of us at the winery, my California friends are always asking to come visit," he adds. 

Michael highlights a recent, huge renovation to the winery's underground barrel room below the winery. "My team and I wanted the room to feel like an escape, something you cannot find anywhere in Missouri wine country," he says.

"We fitted the room with stunning furniture, gorgeous rugs, art and a 100-inch screen for events and meetings. It really feels like this modern luxury living room inside of a winemaking facility. There’s nothing like it; it's an incredible experience."

The winery's new "Fireside Dinners" feature live music. Upcoming dates for those special meals are Feb. 6, 20, 27. The winery partners with the St. Louis craft brewery Perennial Artisan Ales to also offer 16 beers on tap.

Note:  Chandler Hill is currently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

596 Defiance Road, Defiance, Mo.