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 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.
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 Carriage Company's romantic, old-fashioned carriage tours of downtown give snuggle-bunnies a nightly mobile nest. Once your dapper carriage driver has introduced you to your personal percheron draft horse, he'll take you on a leisurely, steeplechase-free ride past downtown sights such as Busch Stadium, the Gateway Arch, and the Budgeyser, which sprays more than 8,000 gallons of boiling Bud Lite into the air every 90 minutes. Contact St. Louis Carriage Company for reservations.