Hoffmanns takes stock of Augusta’s plans
When David and Jerri Hoffmann walked through Augusta last fall, the nugget of an idea formed to transform America’s first Wine Zone (AVA) in the United States into a global destination. In most scenarios, ideas stay at the idea stage. But with the Hoffmanns, that nugget of idea turned into a fast-paced buying spree that now encompasses 1,100 acres and a planned investment of $ 125 million. “It keeps growing!” David Hoffmann said in a recent interview. “We keep adding things.”
Once the property has been acquired, the work begins almost immediately: new paint, new exterior siding, new roofs, etc. eat a schedule and increase the budget.
Renovations in Mount Pleasant, for example, included replacing termite infested floors, removing mold from two basements, and improving drainage and ventilation systems. The ballroom and the crush lounge have also been renovated and a high-speed Wi-Fi network has been installed.
At Montelle Winery, the trees have been cut down to open the view and a vineyard will soon be planted there. Jerri Hoffmann, acknowledging the public concern about the tree being removed, compared it to a painting: âMuch like the artist at the Augusta Plein Art Festival, looking at his painting in the first hour, you you might ask “What is this?” “, but by the time they’re done it’s a beautiful painting. These projects are ongoing and we ask for the patience of the people.”
A two-pump gas station is slated to open in September at 225 Jackson Street. The pumps are located behind the building and are hidden from view of the street; guests will pay via a kiosk or in cash at the Emporium across the street. The Augusta Emporium, a general store located at 5595 Walnut Street, opened on July 1 and will soon include a cafe. A flower shop is planned on the lower level of the building, with access from Jackson Street.
The Kickstand at 5533 Water Street, a bicycle rental store, opened on July 10. The Hoffmann hotel, located in a historic building next to the bicycle shop, is undergoing a major renovation. Other properties still under renovation include: The White House, at 5567 Walnut Street; A cigar and wine bar, 5573 Walnut Street; and the Blue House (an Air BnB) on Jackson Street.
The Hoffmanns have extended their purchasing to Warren County with the recent acquisition of the Emmaus Home campus in Marthasville, the Town and Country nursery in Dutzow, and have just announced a letter of intent to purchase the Ferguson Valley nurseries near by Dutzow. The acquisition of the two nurseries will add essential personnel for work on the vines, estates and the golf course.
The Emmaus Home Campus is a historic property, built in the years 1830 – 1859. The property will become Martha’s Vineyard and Winery and will include an 18-room boutique hotel as well as accommodation for hotel and maintenance staff. Vines will be planted in front of the property. There are eight historic buildings on campus. Among their many properties around the world, David Hoffmann said it was perhaps their favorite. “When you take these roads and admire the stone buildings and the chapel, you feel like you have stepped back in time 125 years ago. It is breathtaking.”
It is proposed to construct the Hoffman Lodge hotel in Augusta between Church and Jackson streets. It will include 53 rooms, seven suites, conference and meeting rooms, a spa, a yoga room, a lounge, a restaurant, an indoor / outdoor pool and a walking path leading to the city. Five acres of vines will be planted on the property, and much of the wooded areas will be retained. The proposal is currently making its way through the St. Charles County approval process. NOTE: A captive hot air balloon will not be installed at the hotel property or in the Township of Augusta. It is still under consideration for another location. There will also be no helipad at this site.
In addition to renovations and building upgrades, the Hoffmanns have been busy adding sculptures across Augusta and their vineyards, commissioned from several artists, representing the American border and Indian heritage. A search is underway for sculptures representing Augusta’s German heritage. A self-guided electronic sculpture walk and a booklet are in development. New playground equipment donated by the Hoffmanns will be installed in Town Square this fall.
A major ‘behind the scenes’ investment has been a state-of-the-art wine sample analyzer in the Augusta Wine Company lab to help winegrowers monitor pH and acidity levels. The new technology provides almost instant results on samples that in the past sometimes had a turnaround time of days.
Upcoming attractions include a 5-star restaurant, The Italian Laundry, in the historic home of Balducci Vineyards. The name is a play about the French laundry in Napa Valley. An amphitheater and a 12-hole championship golf course are also planned on site.
The Miss Augusta, a luxury yacht, will set sail on the Missouri River this fall. It is 105 feet long, three stories high, and can carry 250 people (150 people for events). The yacht is larger than the previously advertised boat and includes a 3rd level sundeck. Passengers will board at Klondike Park – from a temporary floating dock to the construction of a permanent dock. Jerri Hoffmann said: “We’re so proud of our state’s history, and it all revolves around the river, it all started on the river. It’s so cool to see that again.”
A hunting lodge and alligator vineyard tours are scheduled for the property off Nahm Road. Additional activities may include canoeing, fishing, controlled bird hunting (such as pheasant or quail), and a restored 1947 vintage boat for the lake. NOTE: Tour guests will be transported to this site. Gator Tours will not cross the highway. 94 or drive around town.
The Emporium is the central reservation center for all activities and reservations (636-228-4724): Miss Augusta, alligator vineyard tours, carriage rides (returning this fall), picnics, restaurant reservations , hotel and BnB reservations. Future attractions include a vintage car museum, zipline, glamping, horseback riding, wagon rides and more. David Hoffmann said: âIn all we expect about 50 different attractions. We want people to spend the weekends, stay in the guesthouses, enjoy the vineyards and all the activities.
Asked about the traffic problems, David Hoffmann said he expects the carts to lighten much of the traffic. “We have already seen 300-500 runners per weekend.” He said. The Hoffmann family of companies plans to create 500 to 1,000 jobs in the region over the next three years. Job offers are available on the company’s website: www.HoffmannFamilyofCompanies.com/careers/.
. 2.. 3-4: Sculptures of the American border and Indian heritage at Mt
David and Jerri Hoffmann in one of
wine cellars at Mount Pleasant Estates.
The renovated Mount Pleasant Estates Ballroom.
Sculptures of the American border and Indian heritage
at Mount Pleasant Estates.
New fuel pumps behind Hoffmann Gas and Gator. *
* Photo courtesy of Mike Berkel.
The Hoffmann Hotel, on Water Street.
Crutch bicycle rental.
Future Cigar and Wine Bar on Walnut Street.