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New winery opens near Millersburg

Regina Ruppert pours a sample of Touch of Black N Gold, a black current merlot, at Serenity Valley Winery Saturday morning. Ruppert and her husband, Lee, moved their winery to the Millersburg area from O’Fallon in November.

Regina Ruppert pours a sample of Touch of Black N Gold, a black current merlot, at Serenity Valley Winery Saturday morning. Ruppert and her husband, Lee, moved their winery to the Millersburg area from O’Fallon in November. Photo by Katherine Cummins.

— The owners of Serenity Valley Winery may be new to Callaway County, but they certainly are not new to the wine making business.

Lee and Regina Ruppert relocated their 5-year-old boutique winery from O’Fallon to a spot on County Road 342 just outside Millersburg in November and opened their doors a month later.

“We made the move partly to be closer to our daughter and partly because we were looking for an outdoor location — before we were in a strip mall — and we didn’t want to be on top of other wineries,” Regina Ruppert said. “We decided this was the ideal spot.”

Lee Ruppert said he started as a wine maker and viticulturist 20 years ago because “after a fashion, it’s a family tradition.”

“I started out doing kits and then started begging farmers (for grapes and other fruit) to experiment with,” Lee Ruppert said. “I’ve done just about everything imaginable. (Making wine) is two-parts scientist, three-parts artist.”

Regina Ruppert said the couple made the decision to make the transition from part-time hobby to full-time business venture after she had finished a battle with cancer and their daughter, Lea Wood, graduated high school.

“We decided to take a risk,” Ruppert said. “I was a stay-at-home mom for 19 years. This is me returning to the work force and my husband getting to live his dream.”

The Rupperts have won numerous medals for their wines — most recently a gold medal for Velvet Rhapsody, a raspberry chocolate Zinfandel, and a silver medal for Perfect Pair, a pear Riesling, at the 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. They also won a gold medal for Touch of Black N Gold, a black current Merlot, at the 2011 Indiana International Competition.

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