PAULS VALLEY — Numerous people assume the only place in America where vineyards and wineries are located is in Napa Valley, Calif. There seems to be a false belief that grapes can only grow in the climate of California. According to the Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association, the state Oklahoma has 35 wineries, and Valley Vineyards and Winery in Pauls Valley has recently joined that list.
Located just off I-35 in Pauls Valley, Valley Vineyards and Winery began with nine acres of family land a retiring couple, Chauncey and Joanna Klingensmith, noticed wasn’t being used. “We needed something to do,” Chauncey said. So the couple decided a winery and vineyard would suffice. “It is an up and coming industry, and it would bring tourist dollars to the area,” Chauncey said about the idea for a winery.
When the couple built their facility they had in mind a design they could offer the public as a place to hold weddings, receptions, holiday parties and much more. “We have had one wedding here and have several more booked,” Chauncey said. People can rent just the facility or they can also purchase the wine for their event. Valley offers five wines, four of them named after Oklahoma birds. They sell a dry red wine, Tanager; dry white wine, Chardonnay; sweet red wine, Red Hawk; semi-sweet white, Hummingbird; and rose wine, Mockingbird. “All are wines are made from Oklahoma grapes,” he said.
Currently the Klingensmiths are only growing grapes on one acre of land. “We will add another next year.” The couple planted California cuttings of cabernet grapes, which are red, and Riesling grapes, which are white. The Riesling grapes did not make it, but will be replanted next year, Chauncey assured. It takes approximately 3 to 5 years for grapes to be ready to be turned into wine. “It takes a long time before you can utilize your investment,” he said, but assured he was confident about their ability to produce fine wines.
Valley Vineyards and Winery is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon until dark and Sunday 2 p.m. until dark. The wines can be purchased at $10 and $12 a bottle. The winery offers free tastings and a variety of wine-related gifts.