Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Not My Uncle's Lake of the Ozarks

It seems that as soon as I find a place I dearly love, the Universe has a way of either shutting it down or making it so darn popular that it loses it's oddball appeal.
~Rossino's (basement Italian where the waiters and tall guests dodged pipes)– closed
~Saleem's (where garlic is king) - closed
~Blueberry Hill and the Delmar Loop-too touristy; less Rocky Horror-y
~Broadway Oyster Bar – too packed and busy; less uni-sex bathroom whose door barely shuts
Although I suppose it is great for those last two businesses that their appeal has transcended the rather specific, cash only, beer in bottles crowd which frequented them when I first discovered them. And those two places that closed? Well, they had been in business for decades. I am sure the owners needed a vacation.
Consequently, I am taking a huge chance by writing this.

We had the pleasure of spending the weekend at Lake of the Ozarks with two of our three dinner club couples. The plan was for shopping one day, sailing the next and  in between a whole lot of delicious food and wine.
For those not familiar with Lake of the Ozarks – it is a gigantic man-made lake in the center of Missouri. Easily accessible from nearly every state boarding. It is a mere three hour drive from the Coast of Illinois. Both my husband and I grew up vacationing here – spending time on power boats with skis strapped to our feet then eating at motor-boat fish joints along the lake. In the evening we were entertained by Baldknobbers and folks hawking Indian Moccasins and salt-water taffy.
(Yes, I know 'Indian' is not the political correct term, but back in the 70's that is what we went with. And if you haven't heard or seen a Baldknobber, well, I am sorry. Click here:baldknobbers.com  Although I am sad? to say, the show has moved to Branson, Mo)

Anyway. There is a certain expectation when one vacations at Lake of the Ozarks. And trust me, it is not a high one. (Think tin-shower rustic and deep fried fish.)
So, I can tell you first hand what a treat it was to stay at Shawnee Bluff Winery.
(as per usual, this is NOT a paid post)

The location is near the main drag, just a mile or so from the Ozark Yacht Club and the Bagnell Dam strip and perched on a bluff overlooking the lake. Shawnee Bluff may have the absolute best view of Lake Ozark that I have ever seen.
morning view looking up lake

evening view looking down lake
The Winery has eight units, each with a slight variation of this amazing view. 
Granite stone cottages, always adorable.

Red doors. What's more inviting?
Our rooms, recently renovated, were a nice mixture of modern and rustic. And clean. Very, very clean. 

tiny but unbelievably clean bathroom

AND a choice of in room wines...
The patio furniture supplied to each unit was old, but functional, and exactly what is expected when you vacation in the Ozarks. 
Rob feeding the local animals....
Thanks to widely varying plans, our group met up around 5pm. Just in time to catch the evening music guest. (Shawnee Bluff has live music Friday 5-8, Sat and Sun 1-4 and Saturday evening 5-8.)
pool/patio with bar. yes, that is an enormous wine bottle spritzing into the pool.
We opted to sit on the Winery patio and grab dinner. The menu is small offering several appetizer choices, wood-fire pizzas with a variety of toppings in both traditional and flatbread styles. Burger options and several main course selections round out the menu.
I chose salmon served with rice and broccoli – quite delicious. The wood-fire pizzas are amazing and the burgers looked to be a great choice.

Of course, this is also a winery.
And I must, in the interest of full disclosure mention, that I am not – overall- a fan of local wines. We have found a few Chardonnays made in Missouri and Illinois which are 'okay'. Rob really enjoyed the Flappers and Philosophers Chardonnay made by Shawnee Bluff. It was light and crisp and quite nice with the salmon or to just sip while enjoying the view.
Local red wines, in my opinion – which is not educated or scientific in any manner – tend to taste a little like the soybean fertilizer used in the region. However – Shawnee Bluff's Que Syrah Syrah was fantastic – to the tune of two bottles over two days. It was slightly peppery and had just the right amount of body to enjoy on a brisk spring afternoon. 
The winery offers a nice variety of their house wines and a small but nicely curated menu of nationally produced varieties. They also have good options for beer, if you are so inclined. 
Our second day's activities, which I will go into in a later post, were cut short due to excessive wind and a lack of a sit-down eatery at the Osage Beach Outlet Mall. So we returned to Shawnee Bluff for an afternoon snack. Once again, we were treated to music and some surprising appetizers.
Rob and I ordered the Charcuterie Platter- a nice array of cheeses, salami, crackers and toasted pita with the most amazing little goat-cheese stuffed roasted peppers.
Those peppers, next to the grapes. OMG!
The real star of the afternoon food-fest were the Sweet Potato Fries. 
They took a little longer than anticipated to arrive at our table but they were absolutely worth the wait. The 'fries' were more like huge wedges of fresh sweet potato which had been roasted, my guess is in the wood-fire oven, to a nice brown on the edges and melt in your mouth softness throughout. They were served with a BBQ sauce to dip in.
They did not last long. 
So tasty I almost didn't get a photo!
Rooms at the winery go for around $120 a night and guests receive 10% off their food, wine and gift shop purchases. I should mention that the music is easily heard from the rental unit patios. However, as the music and the winery itself pretty much shuts down by 9pm this never caused an issue with sleep. The Vineyard, which is about 15 minutes away, also hosts concerts from time to time and winery guests can take advantage of a shuttle to and from.

If you ever find yourself in need of an Ozark vacation, I would highly recommend Shawnee Bluff Winery.
Just please don't book ALL the rooms when I decide to go there. 

Links to click on!

And as mentioned previously, this is not a paid post. However, I am willing to negotiate for the second weekend in September...


  1. Sounds like a great trip -- especially the wine selections in the room! The photos add a lot to the post.

    1. Thank you Shari! I do find that an in-room wine selection always makes a great trip!!

  2. Sounds lovely, now I'm hungry!

    Looking forward to Day 2, of course. :)

    1. Should you ever find yourself in the Ozarks...!

  3. This sounds lovely, Laura. My husband and I agree that a hotel need not be fancy, but it must be clean. These cottages fit the bill. They put attention into details, and that says a lot. It looks like you had a great trip! Thank you for sharing this place.

    1. It is so wonderful to find a hidden gem, such as Shawnee Bluff. The surprise of how great the hotel is just adds to the fun!

  4. This sounds like a great place. We have never stayed there, but will be looking into it the next time we head to the Lake.

  5. Years ago we planned a vacation to Northwest Arkansas (we lived in Wichita at the time) and Missouri. We never got to Missouri. We live in upstate New York now. Maybe one day....I'm pleased to know there is a place with in room wine. It sounds like an interesting place to visit. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. The Ozarks are kitschy and beautiful. You must give it a try one day!


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