Oklahoma Wine Overview

Oklahoma is surrounded by other states with prolific wine industries — there’s Texas to the south and west, Arkansas to the east and Missouri to the northeast. And yet, the wine industry in Oklahoma is just now beginning to take hold and gain recognition with wine consumers and wine travelers.

There are more than 40 wineries in Oklahoma, and they’re turning out some very noteworthy wines made from Oklahoma grapes. Restrictive shipping laws have held the industry back, as most Oklahoma winery sales come from on-site visitors. There are a handful of wine based organizations in the state, most notably the Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association, whose membership consists of dedicated Oklahoma winery owners.

Another reality is that Oklahoma can be a difficult place to grow grapes. Weather conditions can be extreme here, from scorching summers to frigid winters. But some varieties of grapes do thrive here, most notably hybrid grapes that can survive temperature extremes. In fact, the spectrum of Oklahoma-grown grapes is quite impressive. From Muscadine to Zinfandel and others like Marechal Foch, Vignoles and Vidal Blanc. Frontenac Gris and Norton grapes are also grown in the state. The biggest challenge is creating enough yield to satisfy Oklahoma winery owners desires to create true Oklahoma wines.

Many of Oklahoma’s wineries and vineyards are located in the central part of the state, although you’ll also find them in the northeast area near Tulsa and southeast toward the Arkansas border. Oklahoma’s central wineries take advantage of the Canadian River, which zig zags across the state creating vineyard-friendly valleys. About the only area of Oklahoma where you won’t find wineries is in the far northwestern part of the state (the panhandle), adjacent to the New Mexico and Colorado borders.

Oklahoma Wine Trails

Oklahoma is one of several states that don’t have any defined and recognized wine trails, but definitely should. As mentioned, there are clusters of wineries near the state’s two biggest cities, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. There are a half dozen wineries within an easy day-trip drive from Tulsa, and twice that number surrounding Oklahoma City.

Interestingly, the agri-tourism trend is raising the tide for Oklahoma wineries, as it is in other states. Oklahoma’s primary travel site, VisitOK.com, offers a new brochure promoting Oklahoma’s wineries and vineyards, in addition to a brochure about agri-tourism attractions in the state. The term “wineries” is said to be near the top of search phrases entered on that site, so the interest is certainly there.

With both Tulsa and Oklahoma City being so accessible via Interstate 44 (and others), it would seem a natural fit to designate at least two wine trails in the state. Northeast and Central Oklahoma Wine Trails would fit, or even incorporating the two cities names. Either way, we hope it happens. Designating and promoting wine trails would be a tremendous shot in the arm for Oklahoma’s wine industry.

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