Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Ozark Trail

We had the pleasant opportunity to sample some wine from the wineries that lake goers tend to enjoy the most.  "The Ozark Trail" is a new trail that we put together to experience what the Lake of the Ozarks has to offer the Missouri oenophile.

Our first stop was Shawnee Bluff Winery, which boasts the best view out of all the wineries, atop one of the highest ridges overlooking the lake.  Our tasting experience was very nice.  We were the only ones in the winery and per usual the tasting room was warm with the smells of fresh baked pizza dough and firewood.  (Plus, as an added bonus, the tastings were free!) Jennifer did our tasting. She was a pleasure to chat with and was full of wine knowledge.

Their Pinot Grigio was particularly satisfying with its light, crisp flavors and snappy green apple notes.  We also enjoyed the Muscato Canelli, a semi-sweet California wine was pleasant to the aroma and the pallet.  With essence of fruit which would pair well with fish or pasta.  Our favorite wine of the winery, and possibly the entire trail, was "Call Your Bluff".  Fashioned as a light, sweet, champagne styled wine; the bubbles danced on our tongues.  We even found it at the local micro-brewery Horseshoe Bend Brewery.  Overall we were not fans of their selection of red wines, however, the "Bluff Blush" was noteworthy.  Made from Catawba grapes with light fruit flavor and a sweet finish.

Seven Springs Winery is the place to go to see acres of grape vines and enjoy the seclusion of the quiet countryside.  However, on this particular day the winery was playing host to a chef cook-off/challenge and was far from quiet.  The event was very tempting, boasting meal sampled from top chefs in the area competing to be named the best, but we had an agenda to stick to.  The winery offers 3 tastings for free, or you can pay $8 to sample all of their wine (13 total) and keep you souvenir glass. Even though we have enough winery glasses, we opted for the full taste to get the full range of flavors of their wines. As a side note, this winery also serves beer, many on tap, and has a full bar for cocktails.

Seven Springs Winery get the award for sticking to its roots for being the only winery on the trail to grow all its grape in Missouri. All of the others use California grapes in their wines. The Chardonel had a pleasant, clean aroma with an oaky, peppery finish. The Vignoles had a sweet floral smell with hints of melon and lime. The Spring Fling was our favorite bottle. It was very similar to a Sauvignon Blanc with strong flowery notes and a sweet finish. We ended up enjoying a bottle of this in their tented outdoor patio with some warm french bread with oils and seasonings. Seven Springs' Syrah had the highest alcohol content on the list but gave a pleasant jammy flavor. The Dry Rougeon was an especially light-bodied red which was not oaked. It would make a great table wine with almost any meal. They also use this wine to make their Sangria Rojo!

We had intentions of visiting Casa De Loco, we had driven out to it before we found out it was closed due to the snow and ice.  We heard great things about this winery from the owner himself, with whom we met at Horseshoe Bend Brewery the night before.  We are eager to come back in the Spring to sample their wines and enjoy their views and upbeat atmosphere.

The last winery on our trip was Golden Rock Winery in Camdenton. This winery is more of a restaurant than a traditional winery, but they do have a large wine selection. You are given 3 tastings for free, or you can do a wine flight. Any 3 - 3oz pours for $8 or Any 3 - 6oz. pours for $16. This winery imports all of their grapes and has no actual Missouri wines on their wine list. 

Their Pinot Grigio was extremely light with slight hints of spices. The tartness of the Gerwurtztraminer gave hints of apricots and a sweet rose smell. They featured an Australian wine, Aussie Blanc,  with a strong grapefruit flavor. It was easy to drink and left no after taste. The best-seller was they Cab Syrah Zin, a blend of the 3 grapes. It had a great smooth finish and hints of chocolate. Golden Rock Winery has an impressive variety of fruit wines including Black Merlot, Black Cherry Pinot Noir, Peach Chardonnay, and 7 other fun combinations. Tasting the fruit wines was the highlight of the tasting. It's amazing how fruit can enhance or change the flavor of a traditional wine. 

Overall, The Ozark Trail is an easy one-day wine trail that offers lots of different wine and food options. We are eager to come back in the Spring or Fall to see how the views at the wineries change. We met many delightful people, sip on even more delightful wine, and had a fabulous weekend at the lake! Take a look at the rest of the photos from our trip HERE.

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