Christine’s Vineyard

Welcome to my vineyard.

 

Christine’s Vineyard.

 

Okay, well maybe it’s owned by a different Christine, but I’d still like to claim this little slice of heaven as my own.

 

Located about 15 minutes north of downtown Joplin, this winery is nestled in the quaint countryside. Here, a tasting room and patio are surrounded by a vineyard, mature trees, and a tranquil pond, offering visitors a serene landscape to admire while sipping a glass of wine.

 

 

Time spent here is pure relaxation and bliss.

 

Part of me wants to tell everyone I know about Christine’s Vineyard; the other part wants to keep quiet so I can have this idyllic place all to myself.

 

But ultimately, I want to support the business that Christine and Greg Edmund have worked diligently to create, so get comfy because I’m going to tell you all about it.

 

When the Edmunds purchased their home in 2016, their land came with 10 acres that were partially planted with grapes. So, they decided to dabble in making their own wine.

 

 

Their little hobby morphed into a bona fide business when they opened their tasting room in 2019, right behind their home.

 

 

Here, visitors are able to sample the results of their labor: tending to the growing grapes, then harvesting and processing them.

 

 

My husband Travis and I were fortunate to visit the vineyard on a picture-perfect Saturday this fall. We sat outside on the patio so that we could luxuriate in the warm, mild air.

 

 

As a bonus, we were treated to the folksy rock music of Jason Kinney, who was playing live at the vineyard that night. The vineyard regularly hosts live music and special events, and you can find a schedule of those here.

 

The Edmunds’ sweet dogs, Molly and Daisy, relished being near so many humans. They were never bothersome toward the patrons, and only came over when coaxed. Otherwise, they were content to just chill.

 

 

Just like me.

 

The atmosphere at Christine’s Vineyard is laid-back, versatile, and inclusive.

 

 

It’s a perfect venue for a girls’ night out, a romantic date, or an afternoon with the family, where the kids can roam the grounds and play with the dogs while mom and dad unwind for a bit.

 

This vineyard is also a part of Ozark Mountain Wine Trail, which includes wineries in the Springfield, Missouri, area, as well as Keltoi Winery, located just ten minutes away (and definitely worth stopping at).

 

 

On our first visit to Christine’s Vineyard, Travis and I decided that the best way to sample the wine was to order a flight. We ordered the 6-glass flight, which allowed us to try all of the red wines produced here. The grape varieties grown at Christine’s Vineyard are Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid grape, and Norton, the state grape of Missouri (did you even know we had a state grape?).

 

 

Both grape varieties produce dry wines with notes of berries and spice. At Christine’s Vineyard, they are then aged in barrels made from either American oak or French oak; one wine is aged in both, and one wine is not aged in oak at all.

 

 

All of the wines at Christine’s Vineyard are named after poker hands, and after tasting the wines in our flight, I settled on Jack High Straight as my favorite. This wine is made from the Chambourcin grapes, and aged in both American oak and French oak barrels.

 

 

My second favorite wine was King High Straight, also made from Chambourcin grapes and aged in French oak. And, guess what? It won a silver medal at the 2019 Missouri Wine Competition!

 

“That’s great that the wines here are award-winning,” you might say, “but the thought of drinking dry wine makes my mouth pucker.” Do not worry, my friend.

 

 

Christine’s Vineyard has wine on tap from another Missouri vineyard, St. James Winery, including its Velvet Sweet Red, Velvet White, Blackberry Fruit Wine, and Moscato. Craft and domestic beers, soft drinks, and water are also available.

 

If you’re hungry, you can order an artisan meat-and-cheese platter, or chips and salsa. The Edmunds do have plans to expand their food offerings in the near future.

 

We happened to be at Christine’s Vineyard on a night when they brought in a food truck, and it just happened to be from one of my favorite restaurants in Joplin: El Taco Loco.

 

 

After a while, we decided to explore the grounds. As we walked around the pond, we watched with fascination as the setting sun reflected off of distant storm clouds, creating a marked line that left half of the clouds glowing pink, while the other half remained in shadow.

 

 

It felt dreamlike being underneath that painted sky, glass of wine in hand, feeling totally relaxed.

 

 

We extended our peaceful time by the pond by sitting on the swing and talking as we finished our wine: no phones, no kids, no interruptions.

 

Just the two of us connecting.

 

It was a perfectly romantic evening.

 

 

Christine’s Vineyard is located at 25695 Mulberry Road, Webb City, MO. Click here to visit its website, and here to follow its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

North Heights Porchfest

I remember the days when I’d spend an hour fixing my hair and putting on makeup, then I’d slip on a sassy pair of heels, stuff a tube of lipstick, some cash, and my phone into a tiny – yet fashionable – clutch purse, grab my girlfriends, and head downtown to listen to a band, and enjoy a night full of life.

 

But then I had kids.

 

And the years passed.

 

My sassy heels have been replaced with sensible shoes, my clutch with a pragmatic backpack (with plenty of room for my wallet, phone, snacks, a light sweater, and a small elephant), and I can now get ready to go out in 22 minutes.

 

However, the places I go have also changed. These days, I’m at the soccer field or the dance studio, supporting my kids in their interests. I like my life now, but every once in a while I think back to those lively nights spent with friends, experiencing the thrill of hearing live music, and I yearn for that connection again.

 

Then came North Heights Porchfest. It was at this family-friendly, grassroots music festival that I discovered that I could merge the old me with the new me. I could hang out with my friends and my kids and listen to live music – and by live music, I don’t mean songs by The Wiggles, but my kind of music, like blues, indie, and rock.

 

 

Held in October, this annual free music fest is organized by the people who live in the historic North Heights neighborhood, located just north of downtown Joplin in the area between 1st and F Streets, and Main and Jackson. Here, cozy homes with welcoming front porches make great stages for local bands to play their music.

 

 

Currently, there are 145 porchfest events held in North America (and one in Australia), and Joplin’s North Heights Porchfest was the 104th to be established. Our city may be small, but our citizens understand the value of arts in the community, so the good people of the North Heights neighborhood jumped on the opportunity to bring a porchfest to Joplin in 2017.

 

The event is modeled after the original porchfest, held in 2007 in Ithaca, New York. The purpose of porchfest is simple: to foster community connections while sharing in the joy of listening to live music.

 

This year, North Heights Porchfest welcomed 24 bands, with musicians of all ages representing a wide range of music styles, from Blister Soul (rock)…

 

…to Scale House (blues)…

 

…to Halfway to Yellow (indie/alternative),

 

 

as well as Strolling Strings (modern classical), The Sea Hollies (Irish folk), Kufara ( Zimbabwean folk), and more.

 

I love that North Heights Porchfest is held in the afternoon/early evening because it makes it more accessible for families, as well as for people who enjoy hearing live music but don’t want to leave the comfort of their home once the sun goes down (ahem, me).

 

The three-hour event was divided into three time slots, with new bands playing every hour. There was a handy interactive map and schedule for the event (there were also paper copies available at the event, too).

 

 

Because this was my first time at North Heights Porchfest, I didn’t really know what to expect. Now that I’ve gone, I have some tips on how to better prepare for next year, which I’ll pass along to you. First, bring a portable chair or a blanket. Sometimes, the music just draws you in and you want to stay put during an entire set – but your legs refuse to hold you up in one spot for an hour. Taking the load off of them allows you to completely relax and soak in the experience.

 

Second, you may want to bring some cash for the musicians’ tip jars. These bands are sharing their time and their talent with the community for free, so you might want to show them some love with a tip.

 

Third, bring a cooler for beverages and snacks. Again, you may want to listen to a band’s entire set, and having refreshments at hand is one way to guarantee that you won’t have to get up and miss anything.

 

But, if you don’t bring a cooler, no worries. There is a food truck area set up in the heart of the neighborhood, and you can choose from a variety of food and beverages, including street tacos from El Taco Loco, gourmet sandwiches from Danny Jim’s PBJ,

 

 

cool treats from Kona Ice and Asian dishes from SongBird’s Kitchen,

 

 

coffee, cider, hot chocolate and puffles from The Coffee Shop at Joplin Greenhouse, and several others.

 

 

There are portable restrooms available, too, should you need them. I found this to be reassuring. 🙂

 

While walking around the neighborhood between performances, I stopped at some of the artists’ booths (there were 13 this year) that were set up at the festival, including Aunt Tracy’s Cookies,

 

 

and Susanna Millard Pyrography.

 

 

Being a family-friendly event, there was also a balloon artist making animals for the kids.

 

 

While we welcomed the opportunity to hear a variety of bands play that day, my friend Julie and I spent the most time listening to The Websters which, ironically, is one of the bands that we used to listen to years ago when we would get all dressed up and go out after sundown.

 

 

But on this October afternoon, with the waning light of the sun peeking through the trees, I listened to The Websters sing about Better Days.

 

I looked at my friend and remembered listening to that same song with her years ago. Then I looked over at our kids, hearing that song for the first time, and I knew this for sure: These days – the ones filled with activities, and homework, and chaos – these are the Better Days.

 

 

For more information on North Heights Porchfest, click here.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Mercy Park

I step on the boardwalk and hear a plunk as a startled frog heads to the water for safety. A gentle breeze rustles the tall prairie grass in the nearby meadow, and helps carry an elegant monarch butterfly on its migratory journey. Immersed in this serene environment, I feel peaceful, refreshed – and miles away from civilization.

 

 

Yet, I’m actually within the city – at Joplin’s Mercy Park. Built on the site of the former St. John’s Hospital, which was destroyed in a tornado in 2011, the land here was donated to the city by the hospital to be used as a green space.

 

Mercy Chapel sits at the highest point in the park.
 

Mercy Park is a passive park, offering visitors a nature-filled space for rest and reflection. There’s no playground equipment or sports facilities here. However, all you have to do is walk across 26th Street (there’s a designated pedestrian crossing) to reach Cunningham Park, where you can find several types of activity stations.

 

When it opened in 2016, I honestly didn’t know what to think of Mercy Park. Being located in the post-tornado zone, it was hard to imagine this area, once covered in mounds of debris, transforming into a green space. But the intentional design of the park, coupled with its unique features, has made Mercy Park one of my favorite outdoor spots in Joplin.

 

Here, accessible walking trails lead visitors around a green space, a pond, a meadow, and up to Mercy Chapel and Gardens for a sweeping view of the entire space.

 

 

The land is quickly becoming lush, thanks to the conscientious effort to plant and seed the area back in 2016. Oak, hickory, and Eastern redbud are some of the 30 varieties of deciduous trees that, along with four types of evergreens, six types of grasses, and 22 species of prairie flowers (like wild bergamot and purple coneflower), are beginning to fill the once barren space.

 

 

Walking among the tall grasses and flowers always reminds me of the prairie lands of my home state of Illinois. But did you know that this type of landscape once covered much of Western Missouri, too?

 

Mercy Park’s pond supports its share of wildlife, as well, including plankton, algae, fish (such as common minnows and shiners), crayfish, frogs, and the occasional Northern water snake.

 

 

There’s a large fountain in the center of the pond to aerate it and maintain the water quality.

 

 

My favorite feature in the pond area is the 112-foot-long, PermaTrak concrete boardwalk. There’s something magical about being able to walk on the water.

 

 

There are also picnic tables under pavilions, offering picturesque dining spots.

 

 

Sometimes I like to simply sit on one of the benches and just rest.

 

 

In addition to its natural beauty, Mercy Park hosts several pieces of art to admire.

 

 

With its kaleidoscope of colors and patterns, the 10-by-20-foot mural On the Wings of Butterflies by AJ and Jordan Wood is mesmerizing. It also makes for a fun photo op.

 

 

On the back side of that mural is another one entitled Together We Create. This mural was designed by 50 area elementary students as a project through Art Feeds.

 

 

In addition to the murals, you’ll find nine bronze sculptures in the Rotary Sculpture Garden, a joint project of the Joplin Rotary Club and the Joplin Daybreak Rotary Club.

 

 

The sculpture garden begins at the parking lot and flows clockwise through the park. Here are the pieces you will encounter along the way.

 

Joyful Empowerment by Angela Mia De La Vega.

Rabbit Reach by Tim Cherry

On a side note, when I came upon this sculpture, it had a colorful rock balanced on it as part of an interactive hide-and-seek game for the group Joplin Area Rocks.

 

If you happen to find one of these painted rocks, you can take a photo of yourself with it, post it to the group’s Facebook page, then find a new hiding place for it. It’s a simple way to bring a bit of brightness into someone’s day, and Mercy Park is the perfect place for this.

 

Back to the sculptures…

 

Water Lily by Rosalind Cook

Standing Giraffes by Unknown

The Bird Feeder by Rosalind Cook

Resting Big Cat by Michael Boyce

Whitetail Deer by Michael Boyce

Mercy Park encourages visitors to connect with nature and art in an effort to promote wellness without having to leave the city.

 

It’s an urban mind spa.

 

 

Mercy Park is located at 3002 St. John’s Boulevard. For more information about the facilities available at the park, click here.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.