Located in the idyllic Ozark Highlands, Meramec Vineyards offers visitors a full experience of drinking, eating, shopping, and learning. Its small, cozy eatery, Bistro d'Vine, is open for lunch daily and serves a menu of fresh, seasonal bistro fare, such as quiche with baby greens ($7.35), pork tenderloin with fresh fruit, cheese, and caramelized onions ($7.45), and salmon served over a greek salad ($9.95). Meramec also has bottled wine ($8.95–$23.95) available for purchase for sipping or for christening cruise ships. There's a wine to suit all occasions, including Celebration White ($9.95) for clambakes, New World Red ($8.95) for Thanksgiving feasts, and a pumpkin-flavored Harvest Moon ($10.95) for scaring already skittish Ichabod Cranes. Guests can commemorate their time at Meramec with non-liquid souvenirs from the gift shop, such as gourmet food, wine openers, or a local artist's rendering of you buying his painting.
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.
Granite City Food & Brewery, a casual family restaurant founded by hospitality experts, has an on-site brewery and a menu stuffed with more steak, seafood, pasta, flatbread pizza, burger, and sandwich options than Abe Lincoln had dollar bills stuffed in his top hat. Gourmet pub-grub appetizers and many other generously portioned dishes are listed alongside the beers that bring out their flavors. The intoxicating taste of the inebriated vodka mussels ($12.99) is suggested alongside Northern Light––a light creamy beer––and the juicy, tender meatiness of a 14-ounce New York strip ($25.99) is advised along with Brother Benedict’s bock––a brownish German-style lager. Others among Granite City Food & Brewery's six specialty brews are the Irish-style Broad Axe stout, known for its nose of roasted chocolate and coffee notes, and Duke Of Wellington, an IPA with muscle-bound malt character and a deep-seated dislike of Napoleon.
Natasha's Euro Market’s globetrotting gourmands deliver the tastes of Eastern Europe with a large selection of Old World–style meats, imported chocolates and candies, and European wines and beer. The grill-ready Bobak jumbo sardelki ($4.99/lb.) and Bende hot gyulai ($6.79/lb.) bring spicy flavor to outdoor cookouts or indoor bonfires, and sizzling flavor receptors are re-cooled with a swig of Borsec mineral water ($1.99 for 1.5 L). The flavorful, meltable podlaski ($6.99/lb.) and nutty swiss madrigal cheese ($9.99/lb.) help dress up humdrum sandwiches, and sweet Ukrainian round bread ($3.99) and European cakes team up inside stomachs as a spongy buffer against an invading armada of beers from Romania, Latvia, and Macedonia.
More than 36 pounds of honey go into each batch of Broadway Brewery's Organic Honey Wheat ale. Sure, the brewers take pride in their hoppy pale ales on tap, but they also enjoy playing with the full gamut of flavors from intense to sweet. For instance, the Jam Session IPA contains hints of mango and the medium-bodied copper APA features citrusy notes, while the Cherry Saison goes full-on fruity with a truckload of tart red cherries plopped into each batch. Dark beers are a specialty, too, the crown jewel perhaps being an Imperial Stout marked by notes of chocolate, toffee, and raisins, the diet of history's best-loved emperors.
Growing since 2009, the brewery's collection of more than 20 craft beers includes a wide range of flavor profiles friendly to both expert and novice, most of which are on tap at any given time in the restaurant. In line with their mission to provide accessible beer alongside high-quality food, the dining room at Broadway Brewery offers food pairings that mirror the brewers' ingenuity and love of local produce. ("“We produce much of what we sell,” co-owner and farmer Kenny Duzan told the Columbia Daily Tribune in 2009.) Entrees such as rabbit and dumplings, bison-steak pizza, and Wagyu-beef meatloaf locate the overlap between the homey and the exotic. Naturally, the beer finds its way into some of the dishes even when it's not indoor-softball night: for instance, beer butter melts into hominy cakes, and porter adds tang to a cheese sauce.
Broadway Brewery regularly hosts events including live bluegrass and jazz. Of course, the complex beer itself can be entertainment enough: Thursday Cask Nights open up a special cask-conditioned ale for drinking and discussion each week.