by Fred McMillin
for February 12, 1999


Winery of the Week

Saint James Never Fails


Mrs. Abraham Lincoln
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.
Since this is Lincoln's birthday...
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."

...WineDay of 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

St. James 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 UC-Fresno)
Andrew - Vineyard Manager (U. Of Arkansas, viticulture)
Peter - Finance (Auburn, microbiology; Georgia Tech, MBA)...some lineup. No wonder they are so successful.


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.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


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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