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.