Jasper's modern winery squeezes the life out of central Iowan grapes to create a delicious lineup of colorful wines. The 60-minute VIP tasting gives groups of four or double-four a tour of the winery's chambers and splashes tongues with tastes of all 11 vintages, which include the crisp and citrusy Edelweiss white and the Norton dry red, whose smells of baked fruit awaken connoisseurs to flavors of currant and blackberry with slight hints of cinnamon and mint.
Sleepy Hollow Sports Park sprawls over 80 acres of fields and slopes buzzing with a variety of year-round activities, from go-karts and bumper boats to downhill sledding. The team puts together two 5K races throughout the year: the Mud Run and Beer Run. During these meticulously constructed events, Sleepy Hollow will pit runners against manmade obstacles and natural obstacles.
Being an Iowa-based company, Sleepy Hollow supports more than 300 groups annually, providing funding for causes ranging from local schools to cancer research. The park also serves as the permanent residence of the annual Des Moines Renaissance Faire and Haunted Scream Park.
Since 2000, the Remodelers Council of Greater Des Moines has sponsored the Tour of Remodeled Homes, a journey through area homes that have undergone design and construction transformations. This year’s tour highlights 13 residences of different styles, ages, and price ranges, with projects that ranged from kitchen updates to full remodels. At each stop on the tour, the remodelers will be onsite to answer questions, and most of the sites will also have representatives from the sponsors or suppliers who worked on the projects. All of the featured craftsmen are members of the council, and this year’s flipbook gives a preview of their handiwork.
There’s no turning back once visitors are wheeled via pallet jack into The Slaughterhouse, not unlike pigs being carried to their bloody end. Once inside, visitors must navigate a winding, cavernous fortress of solid steel, careful to avoid whirring chainsaws, murderous madmen, and adorable teething puppies.
Pilot and local network meteorologist John McLaughlin has logged more than 7,700 hours of accident-free flight time in both fixed wing planes and rotorcraft. He draws on that experience to lead flights and tours around Iowa such as agricultural and crop condition surveys and holiday lights sightseeing tours. The flights soar over farmland and wilderness, and he also zips over Des Moines for panoramic views of the skyline and river. John also provides flight training and examinations, teaching burgeoning pilots the fundamentals of flight and the best mouth noises to make during takeoff.
Eight types of grapes grow along twisting vines at Penoach Vineyard & Winery, a family-owned winery 12 miles west of Des Moines. Just meters away from the vineyard stands the winery's tasting room, housed within a restored barn originally built in 1917.
Visitors can lounge by the barn's flickering fireplace while sipping wine, or head to its covered patio to watch the sunset. Sipping options include varietals such as the semi-dry Iowa Frontenac Ros? and the Dallas County apple wine, which is made with locally grown apples and can be sipped hot or cold. Sweet and savory snacks, winery tours, and events such as live concerts are other reasons to visit.