The old mulberry tree at the top of Noboleis Vineyards—the same creature that graces the estate's wine labels—symbolizes the endurance of Robert and Lou Ann Nolan in pursuing their dream to own a vineyard. After purchasing a 74-acre expanse of Augusta farmland in 2005, the Nolans planted their first grapes: chambourcin, traminette, norton, and vignoles. Initial growth indicated high yields, but a late frost in 2007 claimed most of the chambourcin crop. Adversity struck again in 2011, when a tornado tore through part of the vineyards and lifted sections of roof off of the winery.
But between these setbacks, the Nolans built a steady string of accomplishments. Their first vintages claimed multiple awards at the 2010 Missouri Governor's Cup, and what had started as plain farmland grew into an estate encompassing an onsite winery, tasting room, cafe, and wine shop. The Nolans now lead tours and host tastings so that visitors can get an up-close look at how Noboleis's wines—such as the barrel-fermented vidal blanc—are produced without tickling the grapes. The indoor and outdoor grounds also regularly host events that range from weddings to live music performances.
At Sun Rays, an exhaustive list of UV and UV-free tanning services sheathes bodies in golden veneers. Tanning packages cater to the entire corpus with 20-minute sessions in a Sunvision tanning bed; leg tans show preferential treatment with light focused exclusively on the gams. A comfort chair allows recumbent positioning during the session, and UV glasses protect the eyes from light rays and radioactive slideshows of embarrassing family photos. Alternatively, guests can opt for a UV-free glow with airbrush tanning services. Technicians spray epidermises in Playboy airbrush solution, imparting a bronze finish that lasts up to seven days, about the time it takes to color the entire body with a burnt-sienna crayon.
“St. Louis is the fourth-most-haunted city in America,” the tour guide said on a tour covered by Narratively. "But your tour guide is No. 1.” That guide is David Riordan, a renaissance man who's been a commodities trader, lawyer, and Spanish real-estate seller, and now-owner of Riordan Tours. It was his time in Spain that inspired him to become a tour guide. He practiced his storytelling on the English-language radio station he bought and then began leading homespun tours through the small, picturesque town of Frigiliana.
But when the Spanish economy soured, he moved back to his native St. Louis. Now he draws on his natural talent for yarn spinning and leads groups to tourist attractions and haunted corners of the 250-year-old metropolis. Along the ghost tour, David unravels chilling yarns about events that inspired The Exorcist, the St. Louis Fire, the cholera epidemic, and spirits that still roam the streets, asking people which bus they should catch to get to the afterlife. The less spooky city tours explore the UNESCO World Heritage site Cahokia Mounds, as well as the Cardinal's Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch.
David also puts his storytelling skills to use at his Unveiled: History & Hauntings of St Louis shows. Accompanied by a folk guitarist, he regales crowds with tales of the city's history. "I can talk about anything," he told the Riverfront Times. "It's not just ghosts and spirits, [it's] the brewery, steamboats, gangsters."
At one time, St. Charles Flying Service's airport was a training base for World War II pilots during the early 1940s. Today, several vintage WWII aircraft still call the facility home, as does Boeing, which utilizes the grounds to test its own planes for modern-day military operations. Surrounded by aviation benchmarks both past and present, St. Charles Flying Service passes on the gift of flight to students with flight training for single and multiengine aircraft. From light sport to airline transport pilot, the facility's certified instructors help mold the pilots of tomorrow, who may also take advantage of open-enrollment ground courses.
World Balloon's skilled pilots have been cruising gentle air currents in their colorful balloons for 38 years. From the safety of a basket, they unveil panoramic views of the arcing earth, the sun rising above the Sandia Mountains, and the lush greenery of the Rio Grande Valley. After the balloon alights upon the ground, the staffers keep the experience going. They treat guests to a champagne toast and a light snack, and give them a commemorative certificate. The crew also sets the tone for each celebration with a short lesson on the origins of hot-air ballooning and how to identify which clouds would yield the fluffiest pillow stuffing.
The St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association's Gypsy Caravan organizes one of the largest antique, craft, and flea markets in the Midwest, with up to 20,000 people expected to attend this year. The 7 a.m. early-bird ticket grants a full two hours of perusing before general-admission ticket holders, who risk becoming antiques themselves during long waits for admittance. Nearly 400 outdoor and 72 indoor vendors will occupy booths plying antiques, collectibles, crafts, jewelry, furniture, clothing, and other unique wares. Complimentary shopper’s guides plot out retail excursions with maps, vendor lists, and navigational star charts. Browse toys, DVDs, and comic books at Tim Metzger's table; deck yourself out in vintage jewelry and custom-made apparel at the Blackberry Exchange booth; or please your feathered friends with a recycled-tire bird feeder from Chalily Pond and Gardens.