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Agricultural News

Wine Proudly Made From Oklahoma-Grown Grapes

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:54:30 CDT

Wine Proudly Made From Oklahoma-Grown Grapes
One of the vineyards from which Canadian River Winery buys Oklahoma-grown grapes sent stickers for its wine bottles that say, "Proudly Made from Oklahoma-Grown Grapes."

"Once the sticker was approved by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE), we thought it would be a great addition to our wine bottles as many Oklahoma Wine consumers don't know where the grapes or in some cases wine concentrates in the bottle came from," said Gene Clifton, owner of Canadian River Winery in Lexington, Okla.

The United States Tax and Trade Bureau establishes American Viticulture Areas (AVA). To use Oklahoma AVA on the bottle of wine, it must be 75 percent made from Oklahoma-grown grapes. There is a $10,000 fine for those who deceptively use the Oklahoma AVA when the wine was made from concentrate or grapes from some other state or country.

"As Oklahoma's Wine consumers become aware of some of the deceptive practices going on, I know that they will respond accordingly," Clifton said. "We hope this sticker will make it easier for them to support Oklahoma's vineyard operators and those of us using the fruits of their labors to make Oklahoma Wine."    

Many people do not know that at the end of the 19th century, Oklahoma was the fourth largest grape-growing state in the United States thanks primarily to the European settlers who made Oklahoma their home. That all ended with statehood in 1907. Now, a very young grape and wine industry has begun anew.

The industry was recently valued at $98.5 million (all private investment) and employs about 840 people full-time with a $23 million payroll. State and federal taxes, paid by the Oklahoma Grape and Wine Industry, are about $11 million per year.

Managing a vineyard is hard work. From pruning in February, spraying throughout the season for a fungus called black rot, to combating various insect, bird, deer, raccoon, opossum and weed invasions and finally to harvest in August, managing a successful vineyard is indeed hard work and often Oklahoma's hail and late frosts interfere with success.

"Many of Oklahoma's vineyards are nearing the 15-year mark, and the quality of grapes produced gets better and better each year," Clifton said. "It's real farming!"

The Oklahoma Grape Industry Council, partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, is currently working on a Specialty Crop Block Grant aimed at surveying vineyards throughout the state to identify quality improvements needed in Oklahoma's vineyards and establishing educational programs to improve the grape industry in Oklahoma. This project will also identify which grape varieties are best suited to Oklahoma's seven distinct growing areas.

For the past three years, Oklahoma State University's Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, under the direction of William McGlynn, horticultural products processing specialist, has undertaken an Oklahoma Wine Quality Project aimed at sensory and chemical testing of Oklahoma Wines.

The Oklahoma Grape Industry Council has provided some of its award-winning wines made from Oklahoma Grown Grapes to the Governor's Mansion for use in promoting the state of Oklahoma and its agricultural diversity to visitors.



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