In early September, I overheard a lot of grumbling in my beer-loving town about the early release of pumpkin ales in grocery stores. September, of course, is the time of year for apple and pear ciders, not pumpkin beer made with cinnamon and cloves. The same argument against Halloween candy displays in July and Christmas decorations in October also applied to pumpkin beer this year. However, there are so many fans of pumpkin beer that I suspect large breweries will continue their early release in the future. (Columbia's Flatbranch Pub and Brewery, however, is holding out on their wildly popular pumpkin beer, waiting for the traditional Halloween release which results in long lines of folks with empty growlers at the bar for a couple of days before they sell out.)
If you've visited a Missouri winery in the past month or so, you may have been treated to charming displays of pumpkins, blooming mums, haybales, those traditional fall settings that start sprouting in late September when the nighttime temperatures dip into the 50s. If you've been to the Ozarks' Hemman Winery in Brazeau or Wenwood Farm Winery near Bland in the past few weeks, visitors have tasted pumpkin wine, the first of the seasonal wines that Missouri wineries offer each fall. Wenwood Farm's pumpkin pie wine is made with wine grapes, pumpkin, and spices (heavy on the cinnamon), reminiscent of a mulled Vignoles made with Aspen mulling spices.
St. James Winery recently released their sweet cranberry wine in time for Thanksgiving, and should release their 2013 Nouveau, a blend similar to Beaujolais Nouveau, in early November. Now that it is almost November, wineries have already started marketing their Christmas-themed wines. Ste. Genevieve Winery makes a delicious spiced plum wine and wineries throughout the Ozarks are featuring crock pots of mulled wine usually made with one of their sweeter wine offerings. The seasonal wines tend to sell pretty quickly, so I recommend taking a leisurely drive through a fall colors tour of the Ozarks and snatch up these interesting Missouri wines before they disappear like the yellow leaves on sugar maples.