Oklahoma is home to many things, but wine? It's true. Oklahoma actually has the ideal combination of weather and soil for growing grapes, and it has created a recent boom in the number of vineyards and wineries across the state. However, winemakers say certain state laws are stunting the growth of the budding grape industry.
Canadian River Vineyard and Winery is only 14 years old but considered one of the oldest vineyards in the state. Winemaker Gene Clifton once lived on a grape ranch in California and knows a good grape when he sees it.
"You can see, the grapes, I mean, they're loaded," Clifton said.
Clifton's vineyard is in Lexington, Okla. He says it's a young industry here in Oklahoma but quickly taking root. In fact, Jamie Cummings with the Oklahoma Agri-Tourism Association said in the past 14 years, the number of wineries has grown from just a few to 61, with approximately 600 acres of grapes currently growing across the state.
So much growth, the association launched the Oklahoma Wine Trail to highlight 31 wineries on 10 different trails.
Each vineyard and winery is unique, like at Clauren Ridge in Edmond, where you can have a tasting in the rustic Italian tasting room and then head down for a tour of the barrel room and wine cave.
"The whole idea for me was kind of create an environment that basically exuded relaxation," said Thomas Ingmire with the Clauren Ridge Vineyard and Winery.
Ingmire has roughly five acres of grapes at his vineyard and produces a variety of reds and whites, but Thomas and Gene agree they would like to see some changes in Oklahoma laws they feel are holding them back.
"If you call and give me your credit card and you want me to send you a case of wine to Lawton, I can't do that," Clifton said.
That's because state law doesn't allow local wineries to ship within the state, and with no wine sold in grocery stores, distribution is limited to liquor stores.
Ingmire said he believes that support will shift in their direction soon.
"If it takes them a little time to come the full distance, to be more liberalized in their distribution laws, we just have to be patient," Ingmire said.