A WINERY AND VINEYARD WITHOUT GENERATIONS OF EXPERIENCE — NO BLUFFINGOct 21, 2022 01:40PM ● By MARIE EDINGER
MORE THAN ONE WAY TO BUILD
Shawnee Bluff Vineyard and Winery’s owners, the Griswold family, have a background in construction, real estate, and hospitality. Gail Griswold’s father started the business with help from a few partners. Gail and her husband took over in September of 2015. “I don’t know who doesn’t have a passion for wine,” Gail joked. “But I didn’t go to school for it—I don’t have a sommelier, I don’t have any of that—but I was looking into it, and I don’t really need to have any of that to run a business.”
What she does have is fertile land, gorgeous views, and plenty of business savvy. Shawnee Bluff started with the winery in Lake Ozark, overlooking the lake on a bluff. The building was a motel constructed in 1935 when the dam was built and included its original sandstone structure. The winery primarily offers wines from Missouri, though they import some in bulk from California and Washington State. The wines they import stick with the same taste profile and are consistently available. They also bring in some small-batch wines for customers to sample. That site also hosts weddings and other events and frequently holds small or medium-sized concerts.
MISSOURI BORN AND BRED
The Griswolds later added a vineyard in Eldon, where they grow St. Vincent grapes. St. Vincents are a red grape discovered in Augusta, MO in 1973. They stand on their own but also blend very well. Shawnee Bluff uses them to make a semi-sweet, dry rosé that they serve on- site. They plant the popular Vignoles and Chambourcin grapes as well.
“It kind of depends on how the wine is processing,” explained Gail. “We’re very small, so our vineyard manager keeps an eye aging it. We do have some dessert wine that we’re aging. It just kind of depends on the market—what’s available. We’ve had a couple frosts here the last couple years.” They also have some vines at the Lake Ozark location, which don’t frost over as much and create different wines.
GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN
Soon, Shawnee Bluff will have a 16-acre destination winery in Camdenton called Riverbird. It overlooks a tributary leading into the Lake of the Ozarks. “It’s kind of a prime, quiet spot—I guess it’s the last frontier of the lake,” said Gail. “It’s still heavily-owned, residential, farming, and agriculture—not a lot of commercial, so it’s really off the beaten path, very private. I think that’s the appeal—and it’s more of an adventure getting there.”
The site is on the National Historic Registry. It was built in 1919, mainly as a hunting lodge and then changing hands over the years. It’s a gorgeous spot in nature, where visitors can even kayak in and out on the Little Niagara River. “I’d say one of the things we specialize in and really enjoy is taking old spaces and bringing them back to life,” said Gail. They’ve been working on renovations since 2018 and are hoping to open in the fall of 2022.
Once that winery is up and running, Gail will be able to shift her focus back to small-batch wines and production. They also have a distillery permit and are working on aging a brandy
Shawnee Bluff Winery
2430 Bagnell Dam Boulevard
Lake Ozark, MO
8 Tolwood Road
442 Riverbird Lane