Currently, 129 acres of land are dedicated to growing grapes in Oklahoma. That number has steadily increased over the years, and with the growing popularity of locally-made wines, that amount is sure to increase. As such, vintners and winery owners often look for new methods and strategies to expand and strengthen Oklahoma’s wine and grape industry. Part of that includes cultivating the right grape varieties.
Because of our state’s unique climate, some varieties grow better here than others. As such, to create Oklahoma grape wines, many vineyards will grow:
- Cabernet Sauvignon. These grapes create a full-bodied red wine that is rich in tannins. Its aroma features cherries, cassis, and tobacco.
- Muscat Blanc. This variety makes a white wine that can be sweet, dry, fortified, or sparkling. Its flavor profile features honey, citrus, and peach.
- Riesling. These grapes yield an acidic white wine that can be sweet or dry. The wine tastes like lighter fruits and smells like honey or ginger.
- Sangiovese. Rustic versions of this red grape create smokey and herbal wine. Wines can also be made from the more fruit-forward varieties.
- Seyval Blanc. This variety creates an acidic white wine that is dry with some minerality. Its profile has notes of melon and green apple.
- Tempranillo. These grapes make red wines that taste like blackberries and figs. Its fairly complex aroma features dill, tobacco, and wood.
- Vignoles. This variety is used for both very dry and very sweet white wines. Its fruit flavors and floral aroma make it a popular dessert wine.
In addition to these grapes, there are many varieties of hybrid grapes that thrive in Oklahoma’s unique weather conditions.
Hybrid Grapes for Made In Oklahoma Wines
Why Hybrid Varieties are Used when Growing Grapes in Oklahoma
Hybrid grapes are created by crossing two or more existing varieties to get the best qualities of both. For example, with a hybrid variety, a vineyard owner can ensure that their crop has a natural resistance to local weather conditions, yet yield a wine that has the delicious flavor profile of something like a European merlot or chardonnay.
Two hybrid grape varieties that are especially popular for made in Oklahoma wines are Traminette and Chambourcin.
This white wine has delicious flavors of various fruits, notably apricot and peach, which are complemented by hints of honey. Whether it is dry or fairly sweet, Traminette wine almost always pairs well with rich foods.
Traminette grapes were created by crossing Gewürztraminer grapes with another existing hybrid (Joannes Seyve 23.416). The cross resulted in grapes that are cold-hardy, resistant to many diseases, and feature the flavor profile that Gewürztraminer wines are known for.
Well-known for its dark purple color, this red wine is made from one of the most popular hybrid grapes. Chambourcin’s plum and black cherry flavors are beautifully balanced with aromatic hints of herbs and spices.
Unlike the Traminette variety, the exact source of the Chambourcin grape hybrid is unknown. However, it likely contains some Seibel grapes in its lineage. Chambourcin grapes are very productive, resistant to many diseases, and create a wine that is bold and strongly flavored.
Enjoy Oklahoma Grape Wines
Whether you prefer classic flavors or want to expand your palette with something new, you are sure to enjoy quality wines whenever you try something made in Oklahoma. To learn more about local wines or the winemaking process, schedule a winery visit or vineyard tour with a member of the Oklahoma Grape Industry Council.