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.
The pedal pioneers at Boschertown Grand Prix Racing have been facilitating high-speed adventures on one of the largest tracks in the Midwest for more than half a century. In the early days of racing, the course served as a venue for the homemade karts of avid individuals, but now houses a herd of go-karts, sprint-karts, and super-karts that eliminate the possibility of unfair home upgrades such as engines outfitted with nitrous or the flux-capacitor of a 1981 DeLorean. Drivers as young as 10 reach speeds of up to 17 mph in a standard kart; racers 16 or older helm 24 mph sprint-karts; and drivers 18 or older take control of 28 mph super-karts. Wheels roll over hairpin turns, banked corners, straightaways, and opponents' rights to call themselves "Greased Lightning" as drivers dominate laps around the 5/8-mile track.
A Redken Premier school, The Salon Professional Academy staffs an elite team of certified teachers, each of whom boasts more than 10 years of industry experience and a passion for education. Director of Education Chris Gould garnered 16 years of experience training with well-known brands such as Vidal Sassoon, Jacques Dessange, and Yosh Toya, before opening the academy to share her savvy with top local talent. Up-and-coming hair stylists, cosmetologists, and aestheticians meet for full-time, hands-on classes that dispense wisdom on products, body treatments, and the most effective way to relax tense mannequins. Armed with scissors, enthusiasm, and on-trend taste, advanced students head onto the floor to perform salon services on real clients under the watchful eyes of their teachers.
Gotham Dream Cars lets drivers grip the throttle of exotic speed machines such as the Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo, and Bentley Continental GT for personal rental or specialized thrill experiences. During the Dream Car Sprint, auto enthusiasts slip into a Ferrari or Lamborghini on a closed course and whip their more than 500-horsepower drive three times around the autocross track, learning how to tame their power with the aid of an instructor before coming out of the third lap on a straightaway to open the engine up to its full potential. Drivers conduct an orchestra of firing pistons and camshafts for three laps before crossing the finish line and parking to the pianissimo of the softly purring V8 engine. Gotham Dream Cars snaps pictures of the sprint, so drivers are sent home with hands they will never wash and a CD of images to parade before jealous coworkers and humbled shopping carts.
With its neon-purple stage lights and 70” plasma screen, Dave's Guitar Instruction's studio resembles a rock-concert stage as much as it does a classroom. And that's the point. The school's classes, capped at eight students, combine the intimacy of a private lesson with high-tech, professional trappings. The studio's personal headphones pipe each student's chords to only their ears and the instructor's, providing sonic privacy and easing shyness; meanwhile, the stage platform vibrates to prepare students for the bass vibrations of a concert or having to perform during a minor earthquake.
Students of all levels hone their skills with the help of Dave Milliken, an instructor with more than 25 years of guitar performance experience. Dave's love for genres from folk to hip-hop informs his multimedia lessons. During classes, students play along with live recordings or watch concert clips featuring legendary guitar players and plectrums unjustly forgotten by history. For an immersive experience, Dave's students augment their classwork with custom at-home practice sessions, aided by online-video and audio resources.
Name any way of cooking chicken, and chances are that the culinary team at Big A's on the Riverfront has thought of it. The gastropub's cooks specialize in a variety of chicken preparations, from dusting birds in Memphis dry rub to coating them with a teriyaki glaze. Their crowning chicken achievement, however, remains wings tossed in a choice of eight sauces, including the extra-spicy "Fire," a safer alternative to eating wings right off a fireplace poker. And those wings are served sided with plenty of praise?the BCI Annual Wing Dings competition has honored Big A's entries on eight separate occasions.
The specially-prepared poultry arrives tableside along with other bar food classics, including including acclaimed burgers and certified Angus steaks topped with house-made garlic butter. A sippable selection of domestic, imported, and craft brews wait to be raised in toasts. Big A's environment is as unpretentiously warm as the dishes it serves, featuring exposed brick walls, flat-screen televisions, and pool tables.