The Edmond Sun

May 17, 2013

FAPC wine project adding value to Oklahoma wines

Rebecca Bailey
Special to The Sun

STILLWATER — A project conducted at Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center aims to strengthen the quality of Oklahoma wines and help increase overall wine sales throughout the state.

The project, Oklahoma Wine Quality Assessment and Improvement, was funded by a grant from the Oklahoma Viticulture and Enology Fund, said William McGlynn, FAPC horticultural products processing specialist.

“Oklahoma wineries were invited to submit samples of their wines for evaluation,” McGlynn said. “A set of standard quality tests was run on each of the submitted wines. The tests evaluated wine properties such as acid content, sugar content, alcohol content, color and various stability characteristics. This testing was conducted at the FAPC Analytical Services Laboratory.”

A sensory evaluation also was performed on all the wines using a system developed by Roy Mitchell, professor of viticulture and enology at Grayson Country College and winemaker at Homestead Winery in Ivanhoe, Texas. Mitchell assisted in developing a subjective quality rating for all the wines submitted.

“Based on the chemical tests and sensory evaluation we conducted, an overall quality rating was developed for each wine,” McGlynn said. “If specific quality issues were noted with the wine sample, possible remedies were discussed that could be applied to subsequent batches of wine.”

McGlynn said this research would not only benefit wineries and vineyards, but also Oklahoma wine consumers.

“Consumers will benefit from having access to higher quality, locally produced wines,” McGlynn said. “Wineries and vineyards will benefit from higher sales volume and potentially higher-value wines to sell.”

Through this project and other efforts under way, it’s projected that during the next four years, Oklahoma wine sales will increase to 5 percent or more of the state’s total wine sales total, adding at least 100 new jobs and retaining 250 existing jobs in rural Oklahoma and adding an additional $558,000 in taxes to the Oklahoma economy, McGlynn said.

In addition, Oklahoma vineyards and wineries were asked to submit their wines for an opportunity to participate in the 2013 Wine Forum of Oklahoma April 12-13 on the OSU-Stillwater campus. This well-known event featured education wine seminars, wine tasting and food and wine pairings, plus a presentation from celebrity chef Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.

Following a sensory test of the submitted wines, three wineries were selected and included in a seminar, titled A Taste of Oklahoma Terroir, where they were able to share their wines with participants of the sold-out wine forum.

The selected wineries were Canadian River Winery, Slaughterville; Plymouth Valley Winery, Fairview; and Woods and Waters Winery, Anadarko.

These wineries had an opportunity to market themselves through interaction with participants and giving a brief description of their winery, background and product, said Andrea Graves, FAPC business planning and marketing specialist.

“Participants had the chance to sample a red and white wine produced by each of the wineries, and engage in a Q-and-A session with the winemakers,” Graves said. “It was a great way to get the word out about the research being conducted to improve Oklahoma wine quality, as well as some of the top wineries in the state.”

McGlynn said the results of the project would be compiled into a report identifying common issues and providing general recommendations for improving the quality and salability of Oklahoma wines as a whole.

“While the report for the testing completed in 2012 is being finalized for presentation to the industry, funding has been secured to continue the project and conduct another round of testing in 2013,” McGlynn said.