Feature photo: Wine specialist Brianna Genteman is ready to help you taste what Lost Creek has to offer.
By Karen Cernich
Lost Creek Vineyard Offers Award-Winning Wines and Pastoral Scenery With Family-Friendly Atmosphere
There’s a distance of eight miles between the Treloar Trailhead and the old village of Gore on the Katy Trail — an ideal length for a fall day-ride, especially when you consider what you’ll find at either end: The Treloar Bar & Grill and Lost Creek Vineyard.
Larry Frichtel, the vintner who operates Lost Creek with his uncle Tom Frichtel, said the winery sees a good number of trail users who make Lost Creek their destination. They park their cars at Treloar, ride their bikes to Lost Creek and spend an afternoon sampling wines, laughing with friends on the wrap-around porch and taking in the gorgeous scenery. In fact, the winery developed a white peach sangria specifically for the cyclists who visit, because, “who wants to drink 12% alcohol and get back on a bike?” Larry said with a laugh, noting the sangria is only about 6% alcohol because it’s cut with fruit juice. “And they love it!”
But the sangria is only the start of what you’ll want to taste at Lost Creek. The winery, which sells about 1,000 cases a year, produced 15 wines in 2021, including Chardonel, Vignoles, Cynthiana and Chambourcin, as well as a few that pay tribute to the historic MKT (“the Katy”) Railroad which used to stop at Gore — the Golden Spike, Ruby Spike, Whistle Stop Red and Off the Rails. “We are a very small winery,” Larry said. “But we designed it that way.” It’s family-owned and operated and caters to a family clientele.
“Our concept is not about just the wine,” Larry said.
“What we are selling is a day in the county. That was our concept from the beginning. It’s the whole experience. We have a pond where kids can fish. Bring the grandparents, too . . . everybody can sit and enjoy the day.”
Began as a Vineyard Only
For more than a decade before it began producing wine, Lost Creek was exclusively a vineyard. Brothers Steve and Tom Frichtel, who had careers in the construction business, purchased the 210 acres in 1997 when Larry (Steve’s son) was still in high school. The property was rough, but with a background in construction, the Frichtels were up to the task. They tore down old buildings, cleaned up overgrown areas and, following in the footsteps of their neighbor, Joe, they planted a 3 1/2-acre vineyard of Chardonel as a hobby, selling the grapes to area wineries.
In time, the Frichtels purchased their neighbor’s 4-acre vineyard and planted another 4 acres. Currently, they have more than 12 acres of Chardonel, Noiret and Vignoles grapes planted.
In 2008, when Lost Creek began producing wine, one of the early motivations was improving the quality of the grapes. Larry, who had studied soil science at the University of Illinois-Carbondale, joined the business and was looking to make it more economically feasible.
“I started making wine to understand what the other wineries wanted in terms of the quality of the grapes we were selling,” Larry said. “I wanted to know how do I make my grapes better, and how do I get more money for my grapes?” He took classes in oenology and worked closely with other vintners to understand the process and improve his wine.
‘Missouri Winery of the Year’
Adding a winery to the property began with rehabbing the circa 1910 farmhouse on the property. The Frichtels built a wrap-around porch overlooking the pond and actually “lifted” the house off of its foundation to pour a new concrete basement. By 2011, Lost Creek was ready to open to the public.
Within a few years, it began entering competitions and winning awards. Most recently, the 2021 New York International Wine Competition named Lost Creek Vineyard “Missouri Winery of the Year” and awarded a bronze medal (90 out of 100 points) for its Chardonel. Brianna Genteman, Lost Creek’s wine specialist, won a gold medal for a small batch of Chambourcin that she produced for the 2021 International Women’s Wine Competition in Sonoma, Calif. “It earned 90 points, just 3 points shy of Best in Class,” Brianna said, proudly. And Lost Creek’s Rosé won a silver medal at the Camp Good Days Finger Lakes International Wine and Spirits Competition.
These medals and a dozen or so others are displayed on a shelf in the winery’s tasting room.
Looking ahead, Larry said the plan for Lost Creek is to become an estate winery, meaning 100% of its wines will be grown and made on the premises. Currently, it’s about 80%.
Tom said he’s excited by all of the possibilities.
The vineyard and winery have already out-performed all of his expectations. “I never envisioned it could become this,” he said, smiling.
There Really Is a Lost Creek
The name Lost Creek is not just a gimmick. There really is a Lost Creek that runs through the property, and while there are lots of Lost Creeks across the country, this is the only one in the state of Missouri, Larry said. The creek is so named for a couple of reasons — one, because it dries up in summertime, and two, because there’s a section where it actually disappears, “it goes underground,” Tom explained.There is a Lost Creek Road that ends at Highway 94 near the vineyard that is popular with off-road enthusiasts. “It is known in the Jeep world and the side-by-side world as a road to go down,” Larry said.
Open Through Christmas
You might think November and December would be too cold to visit a winery, but Lost Creek has enclosures for the wrap-around porch to keep it warm, while still allowing you to take in the views. The winery is open Thursdays through Sundays until Christmas (Pea Ridge Christmas Tree Farm is just down the road). Hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. The winery is open by appointment only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. All beverages must be purchased on site, but guests are encouraged to bring a picnic basket of snacks to enjoy with their Lost Creek wines. Water, soda and beer also are available for purchase.
If You Go . . .
Lost Creek Vineyard is located at 21356 Gore Road or Mile Marker 93.8 on the Katy Trail. It’s eight miles east of Hermann on Highway 94.