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Jun 22, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Chaumette Winery’

What I Do: Mark Baehmann of Wild Sun Winery

Friday, August 7th, 2015

 

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For more than 30 years, Mark Baehmann has been turning grape juice into vino at Missouri wineries like Montelle, Robller, Mount Pleasant and, most recently, Chaumette. Now, he and business partner Ed Wagner are striking out on their own with Wild Sun Winery, opening in late August on a 10-acre property in Hillsboro.

How did you get interested in winemaking?
I dropped out of college to figure my life out. I applied for a job as a cellar master at Montelle Winery. Communion wine – that’s all I knew. I was barely of drinking age. Clayton Byers (Montelle’s founder) sat me down on a picnic table and opened a bottle of Cynthiana. This man had such passion in his voice, such a romance when it came to wine, that I said, “I want to know more.”

What’s your winemaking philosophy?
Keep it simple. When you keep it simple you let the fruit show itself. If you do too much – baby the wine too much, touch it too much – you run the risk of taking things away from that wine.

Is winemaking an art and a science?
Absolutely. I think we should rack it now, I think we should take it off the oak, I think we should leave it on the skins longer – that’s the art, the unknown gut feel that I have. And when someone says, “Why did you decide to do that?” I don’t know. It was a feeling.

What’s something most people don’t know about Missouri wine?
It is night and day from the ’80s to present day. I still hear that a lot of people have not tried Missouri wines because of their experience from the ’80s, but the wines have gotten markedly better.

What wine do you drink?
I drink from all over, and I typically don’t drink my own. In my very early days of winemaking, we went to a winery, and the wine wasn’t very good. The guy never drank any wine other than what he made, so he acquired a taste for what he was making. That scared me. I want my palate to be fresh.

Why start your own winery now?
God’s timing. He’s finally allowing it. This has not been the first attempt. I have been involved in all aspects of owning a winery from working the tasting bar, working in the vineyards, making the wine, running a wine club, talking to customers – I loved it all. But when you work for someone else, you find yourself saying, “I think I could do this better.”

How do you plan to distinguish Wild Sun from other Missouri wineries?
We are going to focus on our wines. We are not a restaurant. We’re not a vineyard. We’re in long-term contracts with grape growers from Missouri. And we’re going to focus on our customer base, that customer that wants to learn about wine.

What have you learned most about the world of wine in your 30-year career?
There’s something about wine that is so darn romantic – the passion that comes out of a glass. I know what wine can do to transform an evening or a conversation or just someone’s enjoyment in a product that gives more than it takes.

What wine are you most proud of making?
When a wine is successful. When there’re 300 people on my patio having a great time, that’s a good wine. If it wins a medal, it means a handful of judges liked it, and that’s a good thing, but I don’t take it as success. The wine that stands out is the wine we made that christened the Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier: a bottle of Genesis, champagne that we made at Mount Pleasant.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Missouri winemaking fixture Mark Baehmann to open Wild Sun Winery this summer

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

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After 33 years crushing grapes for Missouri wineries like Montelle and Mount Pleasant, Chaumette winemaker Mark Baehmann is ready to fulfill a lifelong dream of opening his own winery in August. Baehmann will open doors to a tasting room Wild Sun Winery, located at 4830 Pioneer Road, just outside of Hillsboro.

Wild Sun will not grow its own grapes, Baehmann said. Instead, he and business partner Ed Wagner will source grapes from Missouri growers to create a portfolio of Missouri standards, including a barrel-fermented chardonel, semi-dry and sweet reds and whites, a dry red blend, a Norton, a cabernet sauvignon and even a port to debut in two to three years.

Baehmann said the project took hold four years ago when he met Wagner, who was equally excited to get into the wine-making business. With the blessing of Chaumette owner Hank Johnson, Baehmann has spent the last two years making wine for the Wild Sun label at Chaumette. “I have nicely aged reds and whites. We’ve got great product when we open doors,” Baehmann said.

Initially, Wild Sun wines will only be available at the tasting room, which is situated in a 200-year-old home. While they uncork a bottle, guests can enjoy bites like cheese and sausage plates or pizzas. Guests can also bring their own nosh and spread a picnic blanket on the lawn or take a seat on a large deck or airy porch.

Baehmann has slowly transitioned from his post at Chaumette, where he gave his notice nearly a year ago. Winery spokesperson Jennifer Johnson said details are still being finalized for a new winemaker, and Chaumette’s management looked forward to Baehmann’s next step. “We are very proud of Mark’s six years of accomplishments at Chaumette, and we are wholeheartedly supportive of his new endeavor,” Johnson said. “We wish him the very best while we look forward to continuing our work together.”

 

 

A tour for your taste buds: StL Culinary Tours offers intimate experience for food enthusiasts

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Looking for a unique way to experience the local culinary scene? Check out StL Culinary Tours, a brand new business that offers guided tours of gems from the St. Louis food scene. Guests of the tour will enjoy an intimate evening of food and drink in the company of chefs, beverage experts, artisan food producers and local farmers. The newly launched tour company is a project by self-proclaimed “culinary evangelist” Beth Huch in response to what she calls the region’s growing appreciation for all things culinary.

The first guided tours – scheduled for October 4 and 18 as well as November 1 and 15 – will showcase Maplewood’s culinary scene. At the boutique shop Vom Foss, guests will enjoy a craft cocktail, learn about innovative oil and vinegar pairings, and leave with two of their favorite oils and vinegars in hand. Moving on to Italian restaurant Acero, guests will enjoy dinner and wine in a private dining room where chef Adam Gnau will create appetizers, pasta dishes and entrees. The tour culminates at the cocktail lounge Water Street Cafe, where brother-sister team Gabe and Maria Kveton will prepare dessert and a nightcap for guests. Each tour begins at 6 p.m. and is limited to 10 guests.

Subsequent tours are being planned for downtown St. Louis, Clayton, Webster Groves, Central West End and Chaumette Winery. StL Culinary Tours also offers private, corporate, alumni and group tours, as well as gift certificates. For more information, including pricing, or to reserve your spot on a tour, visit the company website.

The Scoop: News from Chaumette

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Hank Johnson, owner of Chaumette Vineyards and Winery, has announced the addition of a new poolside restaurant: The Spa Café at Chaumette. Executive chef Adam Lambay, who also helms the stoves at the winery’s Grapevine Grill, will offer guests a “spa-inspired menu of international influences,” including a trio of gazpachos, red pepper hummus, wine barrel-smoked Missouri trout and several house-made desserts. The complete portfolio of Chaumette wines will also be available, of course. The Spa Café at Chaumette will be open for lunch and dinner; watch for a July debut.

Also announced by Chaumette today: Winemaker Mark Baehmann has joined the team; he comes to the Ste. Genevieve operation after 17 years as winemaker at Augusta’s Mount Pleasant Winery. Look for Baehmann to host several wine-tasting events soon – just as soon as he’s finished bottling Chaumette’s 2008 vintage.

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