Cindy Reynolds’ Toast to Relaxation and Refinement Sweetens Community’s Appeal.
Martin City is known far and wide as a culinary destination, and if you want an especially unique taste of our neighborhood’s special flavor, make a reservation at Somerset Wine & Cider Bar. Nestled within the artful beauty of Rosehill Gardens, Somerset offers a one-of-a-kind experience easily popular enough to survive the pandemic and draw crowds again on opening weekend in 2022.
“We’re now in season number five and it just keeps getting better. Everyone’s so happy to get out again and enjoy what we’re known for here in Martin City,” says owner Cindy Reynolds, keeping her usual brisk pace as she orchestrates preparations for another evening filled with locally made wine, gourmet food, and live music. “Personally coordinating everything is very motivating to me. It’s exciting.”
Reynolds lives for crafting memorable events that swirl around the wine she loves. You can tell she feels as much pleasure as pride when doors open at 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, May through September. Somerset Wine & Cider Bar is officially open just two evenings a week, adding to the mystique of the opportunity and making each experience even more special. A $10 reservation fee secures your seat and your first glass of award-winning wine — a value that’s hard to beat all by itself. And that’s just the beginning.
“What we do here is just so much fun. It’s indoors, outdoors, and inviting. You can stroll the grounds and take in everything we have to offer at your own pace. You just won’t find anything else like it in Kansas City. Like the Martin City neighborhood itself, Somerset Wine & Cider Bar is an original.”
An Escape for the Senses
A few hours at Somerset Wine & Cider Bar is even better than you might imagine, walking along with wine glass in hand, drinking in the sunset, feeling the tempo of cool, live music, and exploring the lush grounds of Rosehill Gardens. If you think the elite landscaping company’s work all over Kansas City is impressive, wait until you get a closer look at its Martin City headquarters. Fountains, ponds, foot bridges, viewing decks, and floral displays bursting with color that ties it all together.
“It’s so beautiful here,” says Reynolds, as we follow her to catch a glimpse of golden koi that swim up to meet us. “The landscape makes quite a statement. Many people can’t resist buying flowers on their way out. And they want to learn more about what Rosehill Gardens can do for their own landscapes.”
A welcoming sanctuary of wine, nature, and music. What more could you ask for? How about food with authentic Spanish flair? El Tenador Chef Carmen Cabia offers tapas specifically selected to top off this eclectic wine bar wonderland. Every bite echoes Barcelona and represents the best of food truck cuisine. Reynolds may be El Tenador’s biggest fan. “This is high, high quality food. You know, Kansas City lost about half of its food truck businesses during the pandemic, but it’s no surprise that this one continues to thrive.”
While it’s not uncommon to find food, alcohol, and an entertaining vibe at other venues, Reynolds has taken the balance to a new level of refinement. She personally chooses and shapes every aspect of Somerset Wine & Cider Bar, and strives for matches made in heaven.
“Everything is designed to come together for a feeling that’s just right. We want you to know that when you’re here, we are thrilled to have you. Certainly feel free to arrive without a reservation and we will accommodate you if at all possible. If we don’t happen to have a seat, I will suggest terrific alternatives in Martin City because we’re all local here, and that’s always my priority. Local businesses offer the best — always.”
You might even be inspired to create your own event with Reynolds’ expertise behind you. She’s been known to organize special occasions seasoned with a mix of the influences that makes Somerset Wine & Cider Bar a success. Receptions, yoga retreats, flower potting events, the list goes on. All of them flavored by world-class wine. “I’m always up for suggestions and new ideas. And the Rosehill staff is amazing. They make every event special.”
Rise of a Perfect Pairing
If you want to truly savor every sip at Somerset Wine & Cider Bar, follow its roots all the way back to the 1990s. That’s when Cindy and Dennis Reynolds planted their first grapevines in the rich soil of Paola, Kansas, marking the rebirth of a wine tradition in the area that flourished in the late 19th century until Prohibition. “A lot of people don’t know that there was a time when most of the wine consumed in the U.S. was grown in Kansas and Missouri. We’re working hard to bring it back.”
Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery now boasts over 9,000 grapevines and produces over 5,000 cases of vintage varieties each year. The popular countryside destination routinely draws crowds eager to line up at the door for a taste and a closer look. Rosehill Gardens co-owner Gary Weidenbach was in that line one day, and uncorked an idea.
“He said, ‘We’ve got the gardens. How about you bring the people, and together we’ll create a new attraction in Martin City,” recalls Reynolds. “The next thing I know we’re putting our heads together and making it happen.”
A little easier said than done. When it comes to wine production and sales, Kansas and Missouri are worlds apart. Reynolds says it took a year and a half to secure all the licensing in both states that cleared the way for Somerset Wine & Cider Bar to open.
“We’re the only winery that has a location in both Kansas and Missouri. We grow our grapes and make our wine in Kansas. We bottle and label our Missouri wine separately. Everything we serve and sell at Somerset Wine & Cider Bar is bottled in Martin City, right behind the wine bar at Rosehill.”
Seems like a lot of work, but Reynolds says the opportunity in our neck of the woods was just too hard to resist. “It was such a creative and fun idea, and such a good joint use of the space. We never second guessed ourselves. We worked out a lease with Rosehill, put our little shingle out, and put about a dozen employees to work.”
“The evolution has been really fun to watch,” says Rosehill Gardens Marketing and Events Manager Jeff Menefee. “Everyone has a great time at the wine bar. It’s very successful, and it’s raised awareness of our broader event space and retail Garden Center too. People come out to see what it’s all about, and leave knowing it’s an extraordinary place.”
Made for Martin City
Not only is Somerset Wine & Cider Bar wine bottled in Martin City, you might say our community contributes a key ingredient. Reynolds strongly believes that the unique, local character of Martin City is extremely important in setting the stage for her success.
“Oh it’s just so charming. Martin City is rich with history that you can feel. Plus, it’s easy to get to and surrounded by a population that’s passionate about their preference for local businesses.”
Reynolds also celebrates our neighborhood’s landscape beyond Rosehill Gardens itself as a welcoming setting that adds extra sparkle to fun-filled evenings.
“I mean look at this!” she says, almost breaking into a jog as she leads us toward the Rosehill entrance on 135th Street. “You’ve got these fantastic, wide sidewalks lined with beautiful hanging baskets and plenty of street parking. Martin City is a safe, lovely ‘town.’ I just love, love it. Every bit of it. People leave the wine bar and can go get a locally brewed beer at Martin City Brewing Company or take the kids for treats at Martin City Ice Cream Company. There’s Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse, RC’s Restaurant, and all the others. They’ve each got a cool factor of some sort. What a destination!”
What a difference Somerset Wine & Cider Bar is making for Martin City nightlife! Thanks Cindy, for recognizing our community both for what it is, and what it can be, with a little imagination, collaboration, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit rooted in our pioneering history.
& Cider Bar
311 E. 135th Street
Kansas City, MO 64145