As promised, last week 573 Magazine took a little country drive out to Peaceful Bend Winery in Steelville, Missouri. We met up with our friend, Colleen Smith to catch her groovy and very informative event, Indigenous Foods and Medicine, and ended up finding much more than we expected.
Peaceful Bend Winery is a wonderful little hidden treasure of the Ozarks. Tucked deep in the rolling hills of the Steelville countryside, if it wasn’t for the packed parking lot, you’d think you were a million miles away from the rest of the world (or stepped back in time by 50 years!) Overlooking the Meramec River’s iconic Peaceful Bend area and the hills and forests that surround it, but only minutes away from I-44, Peaceful Bend Winery is the perfect location for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustling chaos of the modern big city to unwind without having to travel too far away.
The place was surreal. We pulled up to a full gravel parking lot, almost wondering if we were in the right place. Besides the many cars that obviously belonged to patrons, it almost looked like a homestead straight out of a Little House on the Prairie book. A little log cabin sat on a hill overlooking the lot and a little workshop that sat opposite to the Winery. A large tree laid in front of the shop, partially cut up, and a couple of small children climbed and played all over the pieces of trunk.
The entrance was lovely. Double wooden doors with etched windows depicting scenes of harvest and beautiful clumps of grapes. After admiring the extraordinary artwork, when you enter, your eye is drawn to the other set of double doors that lead out to the terrace. Etched in those windows are the house and barn that once stood on the property years before. A stunning commemoration of the grounds’ architectural history.
We spotted Colleen right away, and just in time for a super cool demonstration on local indigenous superfoods you can find right here in the 573 and how to use them for their amazing health benefits.
Colleen: So this is slippery elm, or Ulmus fulva. It’s really supportive to our digestive system, our respiratory tract, and topically it’s moisturizing just like aloe. I call it the Ozark Aloe, because if you open this jar you would find that it’s like really mucilaginous. So that coats topically (externally) and internally.
This (below) is a damiana infused in a white wine. The damiana is an aphrodisiac that works on the nervous system, so it’s calming and kind of puts people in “the mood.” You let it sit in the white wine for three days, strain it out, and enjoy a glass of wine with your loved one or just to kind of relax at night.
Damiana grows south of here more. There’s a lot in Texas and Mexico.
This one is garlic, also infused in white wine.
Chop up your garlic and smush it and let it sit out in the white wine overnight. The allicin constituent actually multiplies, making it more anti-bacterial. This then can be used in a stir-fry, or poured over your turkey, anything like that, that you would use garlic in. It just has the nice flavor of the dry white wine.
Ozark superfoods...helps over 60 different ailments!
I also have some Maitake dried mushrooms (Grifola frondosa), it’s one of our Ozark superfoods. They grow mostly around oak trees. They can be added to water and made into a medicinal broth for any soup. So I’m kind of promoting that right now. As one of our Ozark superfoods, this helps over 60 different ailments! A lot of people who have cancer are using it and finding results both with and without chemo therapy. So, it actually is sending our bodies information at a cellular level to heal and help our immune system.
573 Magazine: Colleen, tell us a little more about you and your family.
Colleen: Yeah! My husband is a potter, and he’s a Wyandotte Native American. I also have three lovely daughters. Ocarina (15), Violet (11), and Leonora (8). We lived nestled in the Ozarks in an old schoolhouse down by the creek. Lol. We’re building an offgrid home, it’s taking some time, but we are building an offgrid home and creating a botanical sanctuary on our family’s land.
573 Magazine: So how long have you been doing this?
Colleen: I’ve been practicing Herbalism for over 18 years. And I’ve also been doing horticulture and landscape design for over 20 years. My passion is connecting people with the Ozark plants and once people get connected to their wild edibles and medicinals it can change their life.
Peaceful Bend Winery is amazing. They’re always doing local food, local meats, trying to get as much local farm to table stuff happening as possible.
Sounds great! There’s nothing 573 Magazine loves more than stumbling onto cool places, especially when they have good food! While sampling the daily specials, the very friendly owners (Clyde & Katie) and staff provided good company and interesting conversation.
573 Magazine: How long has Peaceful Bend Winery been around?
Clyde: The winery itself has been here since 1972. And we took over in 1998. That etching you were admiring on the terrace doors was the building that we took over which was out in the woods. Our apartment was the three story end of it, and then the winery was in the barn shaped side. It burnt down, most of it, in 2016. So we built this building up instead.
573 Magazine: This place has a real family feel to it, do you get a lot of families?
Clyde: We really do. It’s the fun part of adding the kitchen into the scene because now it’s not just thought of as an alcohol provider. We’ve always thought of wine as a food item, so now we really exemplify that by being able to have a full menu and pair the wine with meals.
Katie: We have a lot of room for the kids to run around. And we have a couple dogs, so we’re dog friendly too. But, yeah, we have, I don’t know, this weekend we did a water weekend. So we tried to put out water games and kind of keep families a little bit in mind. We have a kids menu.
Clyde: And we have festivals that are very good, family friendly, kid friendly.
573 Magazine: Nice. So do you host a lot of events here at Peaceful Bend?
Katie: Yeah, we do a lot of live music and some food oriented events.
Clyde: Wine making is very event oriented. Just each thing that you do with it is an event. The harvest is a big event. And making it’s not quite the event, but when you go to bottle, that’s a big thing too. So those type of events kind of lend itself to doing entertainment type events too the same way.
573 Magazine: Today you’re hosting Indigenous Foods and Medicine with Colleen. How did you meet Colleen?
Clyde: We met through Jamie.
Katie: So, Colleen’s husband is a potter, and…
Clyde: And a saxophonist. The first time I ever met Jamie he showed up with his saxophone down there, he was playing...and he was carving. He’s a potter. And so he carves an image into a block of wood and then stamps the clay with it. His images are just unbelievable. His pottery is unbelievable. But yeah, the first time. Lol. He was sitting on the side with his sax sit-in there, carving out this piece of wood. And that’s the first dialogue I had with him was, “lol, hey, what...what are you doin?” Lol.
They went on to describe a wonderful relationship that has grown over the years. Neighbors, friends, and kindred spirits, they’ve been looking forward to doing more events together and are very happy to host Colleen’s amazing presentation of Indigenous Foods and Medicine.
Peaceful Bend Winery’s next event is Sunday, December 5th. The Ozark Snappers will be performing live music from 1pm to 4pm. And for the kids, on December 11th there will be A Grinch Who Stole Christmas Dinner.
Katie: So families who want to come out and hear how the Grinch stole Christmas and have Whoberry Salad and Roast Beast.
Clyde: Now that’s not The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Dinner...It’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas...dinner. Just wanted to clarify that, we are gonna have dinner, it won’t be missing...Lol.
Sounds like fun for the whole family! Maybe we’ll see you out there.