Founded in 1855, Adam Puchta Winery is the oldest, continuously owned family winery in the United States. Ownership has been in the hands of the Puchta family without interruption for 7 generations since 1855.
It began with a boat ride, a cattle drive, gold mining and a long walk. Adam immigrated to the United States in 1839 with his parents and brothers and sisters. His father, John Henry Puchta, a Bavarian winemaker and butcher, settled his family in the Frene Creek Valley where land was purchased for growing grapes. Adam and Fredrick (his brother) and a group of young men from Hermann drove a head of cattle from Hermann to California to participate in the gold rush. After selling the cattle to miners, Adam stayed for two years mining gold, then returned to Hermann via the gold fields of Nicaragua then walking his way through Panama before returning to Hermann. After purchasing land from his father, Adam constructed a stone arched wine cellar and Press House. In 1855, the first vintage of Adam Puchta wines were produced from his father’s vineyards. By the 1870’s, Adam was a well-established winemaker and businessman.
Adam’s son, Henry, joined the business in the 1880s, helping the winery to expand, incorporating Henry as Adam Puchta & Son Wine Co. During the wineries heyday their wine was marketed in small kegs and barrels to taverns throughout central and eastern Missouri along the Missouri river as well as filling the local’s glasses and earthen jugs. Most family farm wineries did not bottle or label their products. Henry and his son, Everett, continued wine production until prohibition closed its doors.
With the advent of prohibition in 1919, the winery closed it’s doors as per orders of the Volsted Act. The Puchta family continued to make it’s allowed, 200 gallons of wine for family consumption and turned their energy into their already successful farming operation. While most of the equipment and vineyards were destroyed due to the Volsted Act, some of the commercial equipment was saved by hiding it under piles of straw and survives today. A small Norton vineyard also survived hidden deeply in the woods.