By Lauren Casey
St. GENEVIEVE, Mo. – Nestled in the middle of St. Genevieve wine country sits the picturesque Chaumette Vineyards and Winery. Established in 1990 by Hank and Jackie Johnson, the winery boasts beautiful villas, the St. Vincent in the Vineyard Chapel, a tasting room and the Grapevine Grill restaurant. If you stop by for a glass or two of wine, it’s worth it to come hungry for Chef Rob Beasley’s new American concoctions, sprinkled with a hint of Cajun flare.
Beasley, who hails from Louisiana, crafts a unique menu for the grill, sourcing responsibly from the local area. Cajun night, offered every Thursday, offers an insight into the Beasley’s southern heritage. Dishes rotate weekly and range from succulent fried oysters to spicy crawfish etouffee – a traditional Cajun dish that uses a cooking technique favored in the south known as “smothering,” which contributes unique richness to the sauce.
Described by Johnson as “the best restaurant between St Louis and Memphis,” the Grapevine Grill’s food makes the scenic drive even more worthwhile. The views parallel the food in quality, with perfectly planted rows of vines visible from the patio and a sunset that rivals some of the best. If you’re not feeling Cajun, there is an eclectic offering of tastes on the traditional dinner menu to try. A local resident recommended the BBQ shrimp appetizer, which comes with four gigantic shrimp and homemade bread to sop up all the spicy remnants of sauce left behind.
Main courses include steak, chicken, and salmon options, as well as a bone-in Berkshire pork chop. Berkshire pigs are prized for their meat, which is juicy, perfectly marbled, and tender. The heritage breed lends itself well to high temperature cooking. The chop is served with a beautiful char from the grill, doused in a dark, rich port demi-glace, and served with roasted potatoes and sautéed arugula. Try it with Chaumette’s 2015 Chambourcin Reserve; the French-American hybrid’s supple mouth feel, complex smoky aromatics, and balanced fruit flavors make it a great accompaniment to grilled or smoked dishes.
Hours at the grill are seasonal and reservations are highly recommended. If you are interested in a wine tasting, offered 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, the cost is $5 for six tastes. To make reservations call 573-747-1000 or check http://chaumette.com.