Ask someone from the east or west coast what they think of when you talk about Oklahoma and chances are the first thought that comes to their mind is the “Sooners”. If the individual is into history than they may mention the dust bowl, Will Rodgers or the Indian nations. If they are into country music then they might recall that Reba McIntire, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith and several other stars of country music call Oklahoma home. Many would be surprised to know that Oklahoma also hosts Shakespeare in the Park, world class opera, headliner off Broadway plays and musicals, world class zoos and wine.
Yes, wine! The reemergence of the local wine industry has been developing over the last thirty years in all fifty states and Oklahoma as no exception!
The wine industry, in Oklahoma, is still in its infancy and has not had an easy go of it. Several state regulations impose restrictions on marketing of the wine. Additionally opposition by the lobbyist group for the states beer industry makes securing legislative changes for the marketing of the wine produced by local winery difficult.
These restrictions, that will not allow wine to be sold at places like grocery stores, limits outlets for the local winery. While most wineries are able to market there yearly production to visitors to the winery, some of the larger ones offer distribution though local liquor stores. This makes it difficult to order a local wine with your meal at the majority of restaurants in Oklahoma. Hopefully, Oklahoma legislators will ditch the fifties mentality when is comes to liquor laws and allow the industry to thrive without being hobbled with archaic restraints.
Politics aside, Oklahoma wineries are destinations in and of themselves. Following a Napa Valley pattern where you can visit several properties in one day, Oklahoma applies this principle with a twist.
If you were amazed to discover that there was a wine industry in Oklahoma than you may be even more shocked to know that there are over forty wineries throughout the state. These wineries not only offer the chance to find that great one of a kind wine that will compliment your next meal, they also offer campgrounds, festivals and even mystery theater. There are also cozy inns along the way and such things as a Gaucho Brazilian Feast.
A culinary delight, fine Oklahoma wines compliment assorted grilled and braised meats. beef, chicken &lamb. fresh jijcima and orange salad, grilled fruit and brazilian black beans and rice. Dessert follows with coconut and pineapple crème cake with cardamon. Oklahoma can cook other things besides barbecue.
There are also family events such as musicians, Street Dances, Inflatables for the kids, grand openings to wineries can also include the “Last Behind the Walls” Prison Rodeo.
The frontier spirit lives on.
If a day at the rodeo complimented by wine is not your style, how about something a bit more traditional such as “Catch the Crush” harvest party? This event provides for a personal tour of the winery and vineyard. Cast your eyes over several varieties of grape vines including Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, Vignoles and Cynthiana Norton.
They will even show you how to correctly pick your own grapes. Local musicians play during the Brunch that follows with such items as fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, ham, herbed potatoes, scrambled eggs, chicken with chardonnay sauce, spring salad with feta, and fresh artisan breads. Grape Stomping is usually available, depending on the year.
There are art festivals and photo contests , Fourth of July Parties and Hawaiian luaus. Don’t forget Mardi Gras, car shows and Halloween. If there’s a reason to celebrate, there’s a party at an Oklahoma winery. So if you are looking one of the Midwest’s best kept secrets, go visit an Oklahoma winery . Take a drive and discover the vast array of flavors and tastes each location has to offer. Enjoy the ambiance and take your time. You will be glad you did.