17th February, 2014 by Gabriel Stone
The Oklahoma wine industry is hoping to raise awareness of its improving quality with a new initiative to create a “state wine”.
The Oklahoma Grape Industry Council, which has nearly 50 winery members, is working with Robert Kerr from Oklahoma State University to put together red and white blends drawn from wineries across the US state, which will then be served at official events by the Governor of Oklahoma.
The initiative follows on from the creation two years ago of an Oklahoma Wine Quality Assessment and Improvement programme, which sees producers encouraged to submit their wines for a chemical and sensory evaluation.
As well as offering advice for any problems detected, the scheme also gives wines a quality rating based on these tests in a move designed to raise the standard and sales of Oklahoma wines across the state.
The top performing wines from last year’s project were Plymouth Valley Cellars’ off-dry white blend of Niagara, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, as well as a Malbec from Woods & Waters Winery and then two wines from Canadian River Winery: a Merlot and a dry white blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Muscat Canelli.
The OGIC sent a case of each of these wines to be used exclusively by the Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin. It now aims to develop this scheme through the Oklahoma Governor’s Table Wine programme, which will create annual red and white blends for use at state occasions.
These combined quality-focused and profile building activities are expected to help drive a predicted 5% growth in sales for the state’s wine industry over the next four years.
According to William McGlynn, horticultural products processing specialist at the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, part of Oklahoma State University, this growth could lead to “at least 100 new jobs” in rural areas and add “an additional $558,000” in tax revenue to the state economy.
“The project gives exposure to the good wines in Oklahoma,” said McGlynn. “The more people who know about your wine, the more people will buy it.”