Who would’ve ever thought Oklahoma woul d have wineries? With its red clay and alcohol limitations, it sure did come as a shock to me.
Being from Virginia, I grew up stopping at wineries during our family drives through the countrysides, and running between the vines with my sister and close family friends as our parents took quick taste tests and purchased a few bottles.
Now don’t take that the wrong way. They didn’t get boozed up and continue driving us around. It was usually on day trips to the apple orchard or to cut down our Christmas trees.
Unfortunately when I left Virginia I was only 19, therefore not able to join in on the free wine tastings yet. Three years later and a trip made by my mother and sister to visit me here seemed like the perfect reason to hunt down some wineries.
Living in Norman, we didn’t want to travel too far and fortunately we did not have to.
A little more than 10 miles from my house down State Highway 9 east is the Native Spirits Winery, a business that has been around for about three years and owned by a middle-aged couple Rick and Staci Vollmer.
But getting back to the point, they let you choose from the 13 wines they carry to start tasting. I found out from another winery owner, who I’ll be getting to, that starting off with sweet wines is better on your taste buds. If you start with dries then go to sweets, your taste buds get confused and you could end up not liking the sweets at first taste.
We tasted a range of sweets, dries, whites, reds and blushes. My favorite was the Gentle Deer Pinot Noir. I found out that pinot grapes are the hardest to grow in Oklahoma’s soil and climate. Like most dry reds, it pairs well with salmon, mildly prepared meats and pastas.
My mom and my boyfriend Mitch fell in love with the Fancy Dancer Red Wine, a super sweet one that almost tastes like you’re drinking fruit gushers. The Vollmers suggest it pairs well with turkey, glazed ham or a roast lamb.
Thanks to my mom’s pocketbook, we left with half a case of wines to enjoy during the rest of their visit.
Just recently Mitch and I decided to try out another local winery, Redbud Ridge which is down Hwy. 9 East as well. Tom Knotts opened this vineyard in 2008 after helping with and learning from his father’s winery, Dos Okies which closed in 2005.
Knotts had a gorgeous piece of property with a little tasting room surrounded by trees with the most homey accents.
He is a humorous, down-to-earth kind of guy who asked us what our favorite wines were and explained to us why those might be more appealing to us than others. Although he only has five wines to choose from, I would say his property, atmosphere, personality and wines were better than Native Spirits.
You can tell his pride and joy is his Wine for Stoops, a light red and lightly sweetened wine. He is hoping it becomes more popular and turns into the University of Oklahoma’s tailgating beverage of choice.
However, my favorite was the Sangiovese, made with the chianti grape which is blended with cabernet sauvignon. Knotts assured me this is a perfect multi purpose wine, but he specifically suggested pairing it with salmon and pastas. Speaking from experience, he was completely right.
If you are a wine connoisseur or even a beginner, free wine tastings are the way to go. You are given the chance to taste a wide range of wines and meet some awesomely interesting people. Canadian River Winery and Vineyards is up next.
To contact Sarah Hussain, email firstname.lastname@example.org.