Summer 2022

New Roots

A ranch home evolves to its edges—while staying grounded on its unique site at the top of a vineyard.

Words by Lisa Waterman Gray  |  Photos by Matthew Anderson

M

ore than two decades ago, Cindy and Dennis Reynolds left their corporate and law careers to grow grapes and establish Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery in Miami County. Open since 2001, the bustling winery offers an expansive tasting room and retail space. Visitors can also enjoy live music and food truck fare on many weekends.

The couple recently gutted a low-ceilinged, three-bedroom ranch house in the middle of this 45-acre site. Today, the one-bedroom Vineyard House reflects both Californian and Kansan design aesthetics, influenced by interior designer and California transplant Dana Rydehard. Natural light floods the house thanks to two walls full of glass doors that offer vineyard and patio views. The spacious deck can accommodate up to 80 people. 

A vaulted and beamed ceiling overlooks the open-concept living room and kitchen. Handmade tiles feature irregular edges and textures. There are streamlined light fixtures, recycled material countertops with waterfall edges, and a flush-mount LED fireplace. Adding subtle glamor, brushed brass accentuates the lighting, hardware and fixtures. 

Vineyard House events are primarily for wine club members. A designated prep room adjacent to the garage facilitates food and beverage deliveries. In a private wing of the property, the new bedroom and a spacious new bathroom create the perfect place for Cindy and Dennis to stay overnight on busy winery weekends.

Cindy says the winery benefits from several favorable environmental factors. For starters, it operates near the Ozark Plateau, which averages 40 inches of rain per year. “We are in a very important place for growing grapes, with wonderful soil,” Cindy says. “To be high on a hill, there’s great drainage, too.
We built the lake, and we have ample water.” 

The couple uses no insecticides or synthetic fertilizers on their grape vines. And their contracts with like-minded grape growers in St. Joseph, Missouri, and south-central Kansas assure that the winery always has sufficient fruit available for winemaking.

“So much California wine isn’t grown there because of the drought,” Cindy says. “But Somerset Ridge offers an authentic winery experience in the heart of Midwestern wine country.”

The essence of the 1970s brick ranch remains intact, but a grand covered porch with three welcoming sets of French doors are the first clue to the overhaul inside.

Slice of Summer

In addition to grapes, growers in the region provide an array of tasty in-season goods. Somerset Ridge partner (and James Beard Award–winning chef, certified sommelier and Cicerone certified beer industry professional) Celina Tio created this dessert using fresh blueberries from nearby farms.

The Berry Patch

Cleveland, Missouri

Pick fresh blueberries, in season, or purchase fresh-frozen fruit. The family-owned operation is also known for its daylilies and onsite bakery. theberrypatchonline.com

Gieringers Family Orchard & Berry Farm

Edgerton, Kansas

U-pick blueberries in June, peaches in July and August, and pumpkins in early fall. Their onsite farm market serves jams, donuts and slushies.

The Berry Patch
Cleveland, Missouri

Pick fresh blueberries, in season, or purchase fresh-frozen fruit. The family-owned operation is also known for its daylilies and onsite bakery. theberrypatchonline.com

Gieringers Family
Orchard & Berry Farm
Edgerton, Kansas

U-pick blueberries in June, peaches in July and August, and pumpkins in early fall. Their onsite farm market serves jams, donuts and slushies. goberryfarm.com

Gluten-Free Berry Shortcake Recipe

Makes 8 servings

Lemon Curd

6 ounces lemon juice 4 eggs 12 ounces sugar 6 ounces butter Beat sugar and eggs together in a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Cool.

Blueberry-Sage Coulis

1/2 pint of blueberries, washed 1/2 cup of sugar 4 large sage leaves (plus extra leaves for frying if you’d like a fancy garnish) 1 ounce lemon juice Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer until blueberries are soft. Remove sage leaves, add lemon juice, and purée in the blender until completely smooth.  

Shortcake

2.5 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces sugar
Small pinch of kosher salt
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces almond flour
2 ounces gluten-free flour
2 egg whites
1 ounce sugar

With a paddle attachment, cream the first three ingredients. Add the egg and vanilla, making sure to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure it is fully combined. Add the flours, again scraping the sides so ingredients are fully combined. Set aside.

In a new bowl (transfer the first mixture to a mixing bowl if you don’t have two), with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and sugar until medium peaks form. Fold the peaked whites into the flour mixture in thirds.

Pour into muffin tins that have been prepared with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for about 12 minutes (low fan if convection), then rotate pan and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Turn out upside down and allow it to cool that way.

Macerated Berries

1 cup raspberries, washed 1 cup strawberries, washed and sliced 1/3 cup blackberries, washed and sliced 1/3 cup sugar 4 ounces Somerset Ridge Citron wine Combine berries and sugar. Soak the berries in Citron, stirring occasionally, while making other items.

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons sugar Combine heavy cream and sugar, beating until well combined and soft peaks form.

Plating/Assembly

Lemon for grating Soak each cake with about a tablespoon of Somerset Ridge Citron. Swipe blueberry sauce across the bottom of the plate. Center the soaked cake on the plate, spoon the macerated berries on top and add a dollop of whipped cream. Using a micro plane grater, grate lemon peel on top of each dish just before serving.

Day Tripping

Among the acres and acres of fields and farms, Miami County
offers a few rural destination gems for your day out in the country.

Powell Observatory 

The largest public telescope in a five-state area is open and free to the public on the first and third Saturdays May-October. Images from the Ruisinger telescope will be shown outside across a large, fence-mounted screen as long as the weather cooperates. They also present 30-minute programs on various astronomy topics, which you can also watch via live stream on ASKC’s Facebook page. askc.org/observatories/powell-observatory

NightHawk Winery 

Deriving its name from mysterious nighthawks that visit the property, the inviting tasting room and event space takes architectural cues from the owners’ adjacent straw-bale home. From 3,600 plantings, plus fruit from other local farms, NightHawk produces varietals such as Vignoles Dry, an oaked version of Vidal Blanc; Chambourcin, a dry red wine with plum and berry aromas; and the rose-colored semi-sweet Sunrise Blush, a two-time best-in-class winner from the Kansas Grape Growers & Winemakers Association. nighthawkwines.com

Louisburg Cider Mill 

Family cider makers since 1977, Louisburg Cider Mill has been ranked among the nation’s top 10 cider mills by MSNBC. This longtime local favorite makes delectable apple cider, slushies, hard cider and Lost Trails soda, plus cider donuts. The shop purveys additional food items, food-related gifts and even cookware. Food trucks are often on hand, too. Try it all this fall during the 44th Annual Ciderfest. louisburgcidermill.com 

Interested in the local food movement?
Try these tour-friendly farms. 

Better Equine Ranch – betterequineranch.com

Five Mile Farms – fivemilefarms.com

Grace Heritage Dairy – graceheritagedairy.com

Hill-Arius Acres – FACEBOOK HillAriusAcres

Isinglass Estate Winery – isinglass-estate.com

Little Farm on the Hill – 913-755-1536

Madd House Hill – maddhousehill.com

Miami Purebred Herefords – FACEBOOK miamipurebred

Prothe’s Pecans – prothespecans.com

Silver Lining Herefords – 913-375-2931

Stonehaven Bison Ranch – ksbuffalo.com

Timber View Farm Alpacas – timberviewfarmalpacas.com

Whispering Elm Farm – whisperingelmfarm.com

Wildwood Outdoor Education Center – wildwoodctr.org

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