Transforming from a Jurassic farm to a winter wonderland, the green thumbs at KC Pumpkin Patch have grown their niche as a year-round destination in rural southwest Johnson County. Next set to bloom: a sunflower-rich selfie oasis on the prairie (with wine).
“We loved having folks come for the fall [pumpkin patch] season, but people kept saying, ‘Man, we wish we could come all the time,’” explained Taylor Roesch, who heads up winery operations and events at KC Pumpkin Patch. “So then we started doing more seasonal events.”
Owners Kirk and Julie Berggren — with help from their daughter, Roesch, her husband, Chris, and some grapevines — first launched the pumpkin patch in 2003 in Gardner, later moving it to a new farm in Olathe that already had a vineyard.
They founded KC Wine Co in 2015, hosting festivals and events that now extend beyond the fall.
Starting this weekend and running three consecutive weekends through Aug. 27, the winery — 13875 South Gardner Road — is celebrating its family-friendly Sunflower Festival, complete with many photo opportunities, including a field filled with five varieties of the flower, and wine slushies made with its popular Sunflower Red Blend wine.
“You’ve gotta get the selfie; you’ve got to do it for the ‘gram,” Roesch said. “It’s the Kansas state flower, so everyone loves the sunflower. But I think it’s everything. I mean you come to get your picture, but then, folks are like, ‘I didn’t realize you had all these things back here.’ So you have to do the mega slide and you have to play plinko and different things.”
The mega slide and giant plinko are just a couple of the more than 30 activities that visitors to the festival can enjoy, she noted. Others include lawn games, human foosball and pinball, a trike track, an obstacle course, a combine slide, giant bubbles, and a sand pie bakery. KC Wine Co beverages and festival food also are available, plus live music.
“We try to make all of our activities fun for both kids and adults,” she added.
KC Wine Co and KC Pumpkin Patch — the fall festival and traditional pumpkin patch return Sept. 23 — share 40 acres that are divided by a four-acre pond at the Olathe location. After 10 years at their first location off I-35 in Gardner, the Berggren family had to relocate KC Pumpkin Patch because the land they were leasing was being sold, Roesch shared. They purchased a property in Olathe that already had four acres of grapevines.
“Our initial plan was to pull out the grapevines and plant more pumpkins,” she said. “Then we started doing more research on it and we decided we were going to keep the grapevines and just sell the grapes. Then we’re like, ‘Well, if we’re gonna do that much work. We might as well just make the end product.’ And so that’s how the winery evolved.”
KC Wine Co. began as Roesch’s idea, she said.
“The winery is really my baby,” she explained. “I kind of took that and ran with it. (My parents) always loved the pumpkin patch side. The winery was really us. Chris’s background is in horticulture, so he was able to restore the grapevines and really get that up and get production going. So that’s kind of been our undertaking.”
“We used to do production over there (on the winery side) and quickly outgrew it, so it’s happening all over here (the pumpkin patch side),” she added. “They’re together but separate, if that makes sense.”
At the winery, which is an over 21 venue, the business offers its house-made red and white wines, wine slushies, hard cider, beer, vine coolers (boozy wine pops), Roesch noted. It also hosts events, including trivia, bingo, pilates, and cookie decorating classes.
“That’s been super nice just for date night to get away to have that peace and quiet,” she said. “Then the pumpkin patch side is a little bit more family friendly.”
Over the past 20 years, Roesch shared, everything has come full circle. Kids that have grown up going to the KC Pumpkin Patch are now hanging out at KC Wine Co and bringing their kids to the family-friendly festival, and of course, documenting each year with a photo in the giant chair.
“It’s a compliment when people say we’ve grown with you,” she added. “Kansas City is awesome. They support us a lot.”