A visit to an urban winery

Right after we returned from our Santa Fe  Christmas, we went out with some friends to swap Christmas trip stories.  (They had gone to NYC.)   We decided to visit a little gem of  a place that we had all heard of but none of us had ventured to.

Girouard Vines is a downtown Tulsa, family owned, urban winery.    On Thursday nights, they open up their very stylish tasting room.   We had a wonderful time catching up with our friends and nibbling on a cheese plate.   Chris, the owner and vintner, was on hand and was eager to give us a tour of the facility and tell the Girouard Vines’ story.

This fire door was found under sheet-rock during renovations of the old building that now houses the winery.

His father was obsessed with finding a wine grape that would grow in Oklahoma and started experimenting by cross pollinating Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other wine-making grapes with the native wild ones.   He finally (after years and years) found four seedlings that showed promise.   These four varieties are now being commercially grown by Girouard.

The winery continues to celebrate its Oklahoma roots by featuring the rich Art Deco history of Tulsa on its labels.

Label “machine.”

This is truly a family-owned business and is almost a one-man show.   Chris bottles and labels each bottle by hand and uses glass wine “corks” (for both environmental and economic reasons).

(You can imagine our surprise when we tried to open our first bottle!)

That was our first visit.

A glass of their Atlas Life Chardonnay

Last night we had the opportunity to revisit the winery.    One of our local art museums, Philbrook, hosts a most popular Wine Experience every year.    Although we have decided we can’t afford the Experience, they do offer a Wine Exploration series as a precursor to the main event.   Last year we went to one session with a master sommelier.  This year we decided to go for the whole series which includes a short wine tasting course, a session on how altitude effects wine, and a pruning and graphing seminar.   Since we purchased tickets for all three events, we were invited to a bonus, a kick-off party at Girouard Vines.   Again, we experienced a great time.   Not only were we able to sample some more of the winery’s offerings, we also partook of hors d’oeuvres and listened to a fabulous string quartet.

Not only did this very talented group play “Purple Haze,” as a request the cellist played Saint-Saens “The Swan” from memory.

Girouard’s also features an art gallery and we saw some fantastic local artists’ works.

It was a nice enough evening that we able to sit outside for a while.   The winery also features an outdoor seating area with a roaring fireplace and a few grape vines planted in a mini-vineyard for affect.

Under the lights.

View of downtown.

Until his father’s vines are mature enough to harvest enough grapes for wines (and they are growing his father’s prototype vines in Oklahoma and California), Girouard Art Deco wines are produced from grapes grown and crushed in California).

I look forward to the rest of the series:

  • Tasting the Master’s Way with one of only eighteen female Master Sommeliers in the world.
  • Climbing the Mountain:  Understanding Altitude and It’s Profound Effect on the World of Fine Wine.
  • Pruning & Grafting Seminar to offer a complete perspective from the garden to the table.

If you are ever in the Tulsa area, please check out Girouard Vines.  Their wines are featured in area restaurants and in some retail wine shops.

Updates on this series of wine adventures will be made available as we experience them!


9 comments to A visit to an urban winery

  • Oh, what a great tour… aren’t wineries the best? So much history (not just wine :)). Love those labels too… beautiful.

    • Eliot

      I had a much better picture of more of their labels, but I accidentally deleted it. I am sure we will be back so I can get another pic.

  • I love wineries! It is interesting to see how different each place really is. There are quite a few really amazing wineries here in Nova Soctia, they do a grape stomp for those interested at some of them too, I think this year I may try it 🙂
    Sounds like you had a lovely time.

  • I so adore visiting wineries, especially some of the smaller places. How fun it is. I have yet to visit one here in Montana. We don’t really do grape wine because of the climate but you’ll find choke cherry and other really great fruit wines, one of them even makes some really great mead. They are on my “bucket list” of to do’s in Montana.

    • Eliot

      I used to think that local wineries were second rate but we have some surprisingly good wine makers in Oklahoma. I would love to know how the Montana ones stack up after you visit.

  • I haven’t visited a winery in years. I really like your post and such great photos. Felt like I had gone along while reading this post.

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