Tony Kooyumjian is a third generation vineyard owner and grape grower. His grandmother immigrated to California from Armenia in 1915 and established a vineyard in San Joaquin Valley, which she operated with her son until 1960. Mr. Kooyumjian initially decided to choose a career other than grape growing. His interest was in aviation, and after graduating from college he pursued various aviation jobs until he was hired as a pilot by Ozark Airlines in St. Louis, which later became Trans World Airlines and then American Airlines.
It was during his airline career that Tony was given the opportunity to travel the world and discover fine wines in various countries.His appreciation of wines, along with a statewide resurgence in interest to reestablish the Missouri wine industry, lead him to reopen the old Weprich Winery in St. Charles. The winery was later renamed Winery of the Little Hills. Although he never received a formal education in Enology, Tony attended numerous short courses at various Universities and read and researched the subject extensively. His first vintage, in 1980, was 1000 gallons, or 420 cases, of wine.
In 1988 Tony moved to Augusta, Missouri and established the Augusta Winery in the center of the town historically known for its fine wines and the location of the “First American Viticulture Area”. In 1998 he purchased the Montelle Winery, a winery established in 1970 and located 1.5 miles east of Augusta on Highway 94. In 2001, Tony made the decision to retire early from the airlines and devote all of his energy to producing fine wines in Missouri.
Mr. Kooyumjian’s wines have earned numerous awards from around the world including several “Best of Show” in California Contests, “Best imported white wine to Germany”, and most importantly 4 Missouri Governor Cup Awards. Mr. Kooyumjian lives at his vineyards in Augusta with his wife Cindy. They have 5 children: Maria, Niki, Angela, Tom, and Danny and 6 grandchildren. He is a member of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and the chair of the Wine and Grape Research Committee.
Mark Nienhueser, our cellar master, draws on his many years of experience to constantly ensure that the wines are nurtured through each step of production and that the facilities are kept immaculately clean and sanitary. Because we are a small production facility, we are able to separate the wines from each vineyard and blend them in such a way that we can achieve perfect balance and expression.
The secret to our success in producing outstanding, terrior driven wines is our vineyards. The vineyards are managed by lifelong viticulturist Paul Hopen. Our philosophy is to farm our vineyards with a respect for the land and the environment. We use sustainable farming methods and, as a result, our wines are fresh, fragrant, focused, and well balanced but most of all express the uniqueness of our vineyards