Sipping a glass of red or white with a view of a lake draped in autumn's colors... it almost sounds too idyllic to be true. But Lake of the Ozarks people know better.
There is no better time to visit wineries than the autumn season. Pack a wine picnic bag, or eat on site, either way, you can’t go wrong. The essential wine picnic bag contains crackers or crusty bread, cheese of various kinds, a little relish or mustard, something pickled, plates, knife, and napkins. Once you get to the winery, all you have to worry about is picking the vintages that you want to enjoy. Fall also often brings special seasonal wines that you can’t get other times of the year, such as spiced, or fruit selections such as apple pie, or cranberry.
The Lake of the Ozarks doesn't have an official "wine trail," so here's how to DIY it at three local wineries this fall...
Shawnee Bluff Winery
Shawnee Bluff is a fixture in the Lake's winery scene. With the Winery overlooking the Lake on Bagnell Dam Blvd. and the Vineyard among rolling hills, right off Highway 54 between Lake Ozark and Eldon, an afternoon or evening Shawnee Bluff is an easy win. Note: the vineyard in Eldon is closed to the public except during concerts and is only open for private events, but the winery in Lake Ozark is open!
If you're feeling adventurous and effervescent, try Shawnee Bluff’s sparkling tap wine enough. A little fruity, and slightly carbonated, a Sunday evening at the Vineyard near Eldon with one of their thin crust pizzas and a carafe of the bubbly house stuff goes great with the live band quietly playing in a corner of the beautiful tasting room.
Specialties like wine slushies and fresh salads are enjoyed on an unmatched view from the patio overlooking the main channel and toll bridge at the Shawnee Bluff Winery above the Bagnell Dam Strip.
Seven Springs Winery
It’s a well known destination for events and weddings, but what stands out at Seven Springs Winery is the wine infused food offerings on the restaurant menu. Beef Bourguignon wraps with Norton wine simmered beef, or a Norton burger with the vintage showing up in a demi glaze are a couple of the offerings. The wine list is blessedly simple to navigate: five reds and five whites of the most popular varieties; Norton, Syrah, Vignoles bring unique and local flair. They also offer a few dessert and sparkling wines which are a welcome find. Seven Springs Winery is located at 846 Winery Hills Estate, Linn Creek.
Golden Rock Winery
Golden Rock Winery is open to tasting and dine-in services. Located right in the middle of town, their wine tastings are free! Golden Rock sources their grapes from several locations internationally. With over 30 different wines, there is truly something for everyone. The wines are named for fun local attractions such as the Party Cove Pinot Noir, with a deep cherry woody hint, or Old Trail House, a California Zinfandel variety. On the white menu there is a HaHa Tonka Riesling, perfect for October, and a Grand Glaize Gewurztraminer, also good with sausage and cheese, with some apples on the side. Eleven fruit wines are available, which can be hard to find at some wineries, but rapidly gaining popularity.
Let’s not forget about the food at Golden Rock Winery, which can hold its own as a restaurant. Bruschetta, Hummus, and meat and cheese platters are all perfect for tasting visits. Thin or flatbread pizza also makes the menu, with regular and gourmet toppings. Located at 955 North Business Route 5, Camdenton.
The best thing about this time of year is the chance to get out and experience the crisp fall air and colorful displays in enjoyable ways. So designate a driver or call an Uber, and raise your glass to enjoying good wine at the best place we know of: Lake of the Ozarks!