Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Some Oklahoma Wine Grapes to Rot on Vines

Well, this is disappointing:
Harvest is under way at Oklahoma vineyards, but some grapes will be left to rot on the vine because of poor sales, growers said.

Mack Hayes quit watering some of his vines this summer when it became clear he wouldn't sell all his grapes to wineries.

"If you can't move them, there's no need to harvest them," said Hayes, owner of Ozark Grapes in Mayes County.

Andrew Snyder, president of the Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association, said about 50 tons of grapes will go to waste this year because most Oklahoma wineries are buying bulk wine or juice concentrate from out of state to bottle and sell here. That's worth about $312,500 in unproduced wine.

"It's cheaper to buy bulk wine from California and put it in a bottle than it is to grow grapes in Oklahoma and bottle true Oklahoma wine," Snyder said. "There are enough Oklahoma grapes out there. It's just a business model decision that many wineries are making."

So Oklahoma wine makers are making wine from grapes and juice. . . from somewhere else? Then what's the point of calling yourself an Oklahoma wine maker? Ho ho, because you're making wine in Oklahoma, I get it. But just because I'm a wine maker making wine in Oklahoma doesn't make me an Oklahoma wine maker. I'm an Oklahoman making California wine or wherever it is I get my juice.

I've been eager to tell people that Oklahoma has a burgeoning wine industry. Sure I get scanty looks but I point out that Oklahoma is really a good place to grow grapes. I'm confident we can make wine as good as anywhere else. And I'm even more sure we can, especially now that I learn we're using grapes from anywhere but here.

I understand the concept of controlling costs and wanting to make affordable wine but I also understand honesty and when a wine maker claims he's making Oklahoma wine, well, with this information, I'm no longer sure.


  1. Rumors of the demise of Oklahoma's wine industry may be exaggerated. I don't know if "cool" is good for the grapes but we've had a very very cool summer this year so far. I barely was able to grow healthy pumpkins.

  2. You have to wonder about the quality, too. The grape juice they are buying will be stuff Californians wouldn't buy.

  3. Our extremes can actually be good for grapes, concentrating and enhancing their flavors. That's why I question using outside grapes. Ours may not be as good as California, yet, but at least they're unique. We'll get there in time.

    It's still early in the year, isn't it Bruce? Some time left for your pumpkins to rally?

  4. Good point, Jason. (Not to mention the Okie/California historical connection. Do we have to depend on California to bail us out every time we get in trouble agriculturally?) Cast off California juice better than Okie grapes? Perish the thought!

  5. Cast off California juice better than Okie grapes?

    Wrathful Grapes.

    Not to mention the Okie/California historical connection.

    Wasn't that connection just Steinbeck fiction? :)