Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Watchdog Team Journalist

Ann Kelley is an investigative reporter for the watchdog team of  "The Oklahoman".  Kelley has received numerous awards for her articles as a journalist and her investigative work has been used in the  best-selling book "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham.

Kelley and her co-worker, Vallery Brown, comment on the key personal attributes that have helped Kelley in her journalism career.

The video link is no longer available.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Great Pair - Festivals and Wines

Oklahoma summers have plenty of sunshine and great weather.  Seasonal festivals throughout the state bring people together for fun, good food and good wine.

Here are just of few of the upcoming festivals, starting this weekend, featuring Oklahoma wines. Some of the festivals bring in artists and musicians for a great experience. Additional information about each festival is available from the vineyard's website.







Nuyaka Creek Winery
 Spring Wine Festival

Free Wine & Cheese
 Tasting Day

Grand Wine Country
 Fall Fesitval

Summer Under The

Drumright Wine

July Preharvest Festival

Bristow, OK

Drumright, OK

Grand Lake
 Pelican Landing

Luther, OK

Drumright, OK

Bessie, OK

Nuyaka Creek Winery

Tidal School Vineyards

Oak Hills Winery

Redstone Vineyards &


Tidal School Vineyards

Panther Hills


Just when the summer begins to fade away and you think the fun has ended, it is harvest time across Oklahoma vineyards. Exciting grape harvest and grape stomping events begin in August and September. There is more fun to come!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring in Oklahoma & Grapes On the Vine!

It is springtime in Oklahoma and vineyards across the state are showing signs of new growth: new grape leaves, new baby grapes, and more acres devoted to growing Oklahoma grapes.

The number of acres in Oklahoma producing grapes has quadrupled in less than 10 years. Oklahoma now has over 600 acres devoted to growing grapes, according to the information presented at  the Oklahoma State Capitol this month by the Viticulture and Enology Program of Oklahoma State University.  

One of the oldest vineyards in the state, has grown to include 20 acres, Richard Kennedy said, the owner of  Tres Suenos Vineyards and Winery.  

Tres Suenos, or three dreams in Spanish, was established over 10 years ago near Luther, Oklahoma.  It was the culmination of 3 partners' dreams, including the present owner Richard Kennedy.
“The Oklahoma wine industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the state,” Kennedy said.

Tres Suenos includes the vineyard, a winery and a lovely 4,000 square feet tasting room large enough to accommodate many celebrations, including weddings.  The winery offers free tastings and winery tours. 

Shipping laws and grocery store sales of wine need to be changed in Oklahoma in order for the wine industry to be competitive with other states and for the industry to be sustainable, Kennedy said. 
The state legislatures can further develop state tourism by the support of  better roads for access to the vineyards and the support of the bed and breakfast industry.

"If Oklahomans want to have the wine industry in Oklahoma, they need to talk to their state legislatures about changing the current laws," Kennedy said.

As the winemaker for Tres Suenos, Kennedy makes wines from his own grapes as well as grapes from other Oklahoma producers.

"If you want to purchase wines made from Oklahoma grapes, be certain you look for a label stating that it is produced in Oklahoma,"  Kennedy said. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tidal School Vineyards

One of Oklahoma’s vineyards and wineries held a free wine tasting and artist show Saturday, April 17, in a building built in the 1920’s by John D. Rockefeller, according to the Tidal School Vineyards web site.

 Gary and Brenda Schroeder, owners of the Tidal School Vineyards, purchased the property in 2001, planted the grapes and then restored the old school building, said Stephanie Summers, an employee of Tidal School. Summers explained the vineyards had their first harvest in 2005 and the winery uses grapes from their own vineyard, as well as grapes from other vineyards to create several specialty blended wines.

Many of their wines have won awards at wine competitions and are available at the winery and at retail establishments in Oklahoma. One of their blended wines includes the Oklahoma Sunset, Summers said, a wine named after the beautiful Oklahoma sunsets which the color of the wine resembles. 

Tidal School Vineyards frequently hosts special events throughout the year, according to their web site.  A vocal talent competition, the Tidal Idol will be held on May 1, Summers said, and will begin at 6 p.m. with a $10 entry fee, which includes light hors d'oeuvres.  A band will be playing prior to the idol competition, Summers said, and winery tours and free wine tasting will also be available during the day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Canadian River Vineyard and Winery

Gene Clifton, owner, operator and partner of Canadian River Vineyards and Winery, has brought his experience in the California wine industry to encourage the fruition of a growing wine industry in Oklahoma.  Clifton established his vineyard and winery, just 15 minutes south of Norman, about 10 years ago and works with state legislatures and other vineyard owners to champion Oklahoma wines.
The video link is no longer available.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beat the Oklahoma Winter Blues

Even though Oklahoma winters can be dreary, the tasting rooms of the state's wineries and vineyards  are still open, giving visitors a chance to taste and learn about wines, visit, and just relax.  Free tasting rooms offer a chance to taste a wide variety of wines, many produced from grapes grown from Oklahoma soil. 
"Grapes can actually grow in any soil", Rick Vollmer, owner of Native Spirits Winery, said. 
Vollmer and his wife,Staci, became interested in establishing a winery.  The process took about four years, including obtaining proper licensing,  and the they now have a small vineyard and a winery about 10 miles east of Norman.  Native Spirits Winery opened in June 2009 and was named after their interest in Native American art. 

Vollmer faced hard clay soil when he planted the first grape vines.  Oklahoma State University's Viticulture and Enology Research and Extension Program provided assistance with soil testing and with suggestions to amend the soil.  Now that the grape vines are established, the deer in the Lake Thunderbird area just love the grapes and Vollmer is working to find good solutions to keep the deer away from the fruit.

The wines, with the exception of one wine, produced from the Native Spirits Winery, are from Oklahoma grapes:  Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, and Zinfandel.

The winery offers a current listing of 16 different dry wines and sweet wines. Some of the wines have been blended during the production process with flavors, such as peach, strawberry and orange.

Many Oklahoma wineries and vineyards have tasting rooms to provide a fun and educational experience for the public. The Native Spirits Winery shares hospitality and knowledge about wines. Vollmer believes that the best way to learn about wines is to visit tasting rooms.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oklahoma Pride

Above is a photo of Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication [SOP]
 Oklahoma is home to the University of Oklahoma, the Sooners and Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications.  Oklahoma is also home to grapes.  The wide variety of grapes grown in the state leads a path to a diverse selection of wines.
"Oklahomans are new wine drinkers," Gary Strebel, owner of Strebel Creek Vineyard, said.  "People start with a white wine, and go to a drier white wine. Then, many people go on to [drink] a light red wine and ultimately go to a heavier red wine."
Below is a listing of some of the grape varieties grown in the state's vineyards, according to the Oklahoma State University Viticulture and Enology web site.

Alicante Bouschet
Cabernet Sauvignon [Red]
Cabernet Franc
Chenin Blanc
Merlot [Red]

 Muscat Canelli
Norton / Cynthiana
Pinot Gris / Grigio[White]
Pinot Noir[Red]
Riesling (White)
Sauvignon Blanc[White]
Seyval Blanc
Syrah / Shiraz [Red]
Vidal Blanc

Villard Blanc
Petit Verdot
Ruby Cabernet[Red]
Sangiovese [Red]

The only way to find the special wine, or wines, you like, is to try them. Many Oklahoma vineyards and wineries offer free wine tastings.  
The Oklahoma Agritourism Program is sponsoring a chance to visit a few of Oklahoma's 53 vineyards and wineries, take some photos and enter monthly drawings for great giveaways during 2010.