Down the steps of Mount Pleasant Estates and into the wine cellars below ground, the cool earth encases history the same way the aged wooden barrels encase wine. It’s the site of the first commercial wine producer in Augusta, which started around 1850 in the country’s first AVA historic wine region.
In 30 days, the site will again be open to the public for tours following renovations from new owners David and Jerri Hoffmann.
Above ground, renovations and touch-ups are transforming the exterior of Mount Pleasant. The buildings have been repainted from marigold to their former rosé pink with merlot-colored shutters, the colors depicted in a 1980s painting of Augusta by the late Dee Dann.
The Hoffmanns surveyed the progress and spoke eagerly of other projects nearing completion. They said the new general store at the Augusta Emporium and a bike shop near the Katy Trail are both slated to open July 1, with the two-pump gas station on Jackson Street planned for about 60 days from now. The wineries have been open “sporadically,” David Hoffmann said, but many of those are nearing completion on their renovations too.
“There’s certain parts we’re ahead on and certain parts we’re behind on, but overall we’re happy with the renovations,” he told The Missourian Thursday, about six months after he first announced his plans to create a $100 million national wine and vineyard destination in Augusta. In the months since, he’s purchased four wineries and over a dozen downtown buildings and brought trolleys, horse and buggy rides and vintage trucks to the area. A yacht and paddleboats to Washington are forthcoming, as is a hotel and golf course in Augusta.
Amy Smith, director of real estate operations for the Hoffmann Family of Companies, said the construction is creating more than 100 jobs, with around 40 people on the grounds at Mount Pleasant working each day.
Although he enjoys seeing the physical changes, Mount Pleasant head winemaker and Augusta native Matt Brennecke said he is most excited for the increased technical capacity the renovations will provide.
“There’s a high-tech lab going in that will help us as winemakers get better,” said Brennecke, whose team recently won national acclaim for the winery’s vignoles and tawny port blends. “Change is inevitable, and for the wineries, this is the best thing in the long-term.”