Oklahoma's newest Winery: Redbud Ridge Vineyard & Winery
By Susen Foster
Though winemaking played a significant role in Oklahoma's economy early in the 20th century, prohibition restrictions and the Dust Bowl took their toll on the once thriving industry.
But in the 1980s, a new breed of farmers once again looked to Oklahoma's fertile red dirt and the fruit of the vine for profit. Today, there are more than 50 licensed wineries across the state.
The latest to open its doors to the public is Redbud Ridge Vineyard & Winery, located at 7301 E. Highway 9, just a few miles east of the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman.
There is depth in the winemaking and grape growing heritage of owner Tom Knotts. "We always had wine on the table at our house, usually homemade," Tom says. "Grapes and wine were just part of our life. My dad, Max Knotts, was introduced to the beauty of wine while serving in Europe during WWII.
"It was his efforts to develop a vineyard for his own winemaking that helped spark life back into the dormant grape growing industry in Oklahoma. He and two other 'Grape Nuts' founded the original statewide Oklahoma Grape Growers and Winemakers Association."
Tom has been a member of the OGGWMA since it was established in 1992. He is also the president of Frontier Country Wine Growers of Central Oklahoma, and an active member of WineAmerica, the nationwide small winery association.
While planning retirement from Oklahoma University, Tom suggested to wife Jann that he should find a new career to keep him active. Firmly believing that there is nothing more relaxing than a good steak and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, he began preparing for the day when he could share his wine with the world.
That day has arrived, leaving him little time to enjoy his own steak, but he's happy to provide his full bodied Big Red Steak Wine to those who do. The winery also bottles a palate tempting Oklahoma Riesling and Three Roses, a uniquely dark and delicious rosé.
Redbud Ridge Vineyard & Winery is nestled in a grove of oaks where the fragrance of the woods and the aroma of aging reds are part of its appeal. It is only a short drive south from Oklahoma City off Interstate 35 at Exit 108A; but call ahead since their hours are not yet firm. (405) 306-9492