Shawnee Bluff Winery on Bagnell Dam Boulevard is growing, and wine-lovers will appreciate their most recent addition: the Tasting Barn. With a bright-red exterior and snowy white roof, the barn stands above lush vines, heavy with ripening grapes, and is open for tastings Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It can also be leased for private events Monday through Thursday.
The barn represents the business model and construction passion that owners Gail Griswold and her husband share. They love to preserve the old for modern uses. That’s exactly what they did for the rustic, weathered church located on property adjacent to the winery.
Karl Gasslander, a native Chicago artist, built the church when he retired to Lake of the Ozarks. Local people recall it was used as a wedding chapel for those who wanted to include gorgeous views of the Lake in their memory books.
Gail and her husband bought the property and the old church with it in order to add parking space for the winery. They consulted an engineer who advised them the building could be salvaged, so they set out to do just that. The result of their design collaboration is the Tasting Barn.
In the wall facing the water is a wide picture window giving views of the Lake below the bluff. When the sun burns high and bright, the waters resemble molten pewter, and at sunrise and sunset, the water takes on the colors of the sky—at any hour, breathtaking.
That’s one reason the barn features decking on two sides. Guests can savor the wine of their choice while breathing in the scents rising from the vines on the hillside behind the barn or watch birds soar on air currents flowing over the bluff.
Inside are more treats for the eye. In a nod to the original church, a chandelier featuring cathedral lights hangs on high and may draw the eye toward narrow Basilica-styled windows above the picture window below. Those vertical windows carry the eye to skies textured by clouds and those birds waltzing on air.
The ceiling is another piece of history preserved. It’s made of weathered snow fence from Wyoming. The counter below preserves Shawnee Bluff’s own wine barrels, adding nostalgia and rustic textures. The serving surface is glossy and practical. Lacquer protects dark wood with a lighter piece branded “SB.”
Behind the bar are open shelves designed and installed by local woodworker, Nathan Rinne. Two paintings by local artist Gordon Ord are part of the décor. One shows the winery as seen from that gorgeous blue pool between the dining areas and the bluff; the other depicts the vineyard off Highway 54 as seen from a hill above. Abstract art work by Gasslander will soon be part of the décor as well.
Shawnee Bluff Winery’s labels have become works of art, too. The dry rosé features a photo taken by local photographer Jacob Carola/CarolaPix. When all bottles are on display, as they are in the Tasting Barn, the bottles draw the eye as a museum exhibit might.
Shawnee Bluff Winery brings in tourists and homeowners year-round for cooling breezes across the bluff, vines heavy with grapes, and the Lake in all colors. With the addition of the Tasting Barn, Shawnee Bluff blends the new and historic in an experience meant to be savored.