Award-Winning Urban Winery Has Deep Oklahoma Roots

Thursday, May 20th 2010, 4:03 pm
By: News On 6

By Rich Lenz, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- What comes to mind when you think of a winery? Probably rolling hills and acres of vines, and not the concrete of downtown Tulsa.

But there's an urban winery operating just a few blocks from our TV station. Every day they combine the artistic with the scientific, to produce award-winning vino.

A father's dreams, born in an Oklahoma City backyard 50 years ago, will soon become a son's reality.

"Just doing that alone is, is - makes this whole venture worthwhile," said Chris Girouard.

Chris Girouard owns and operates Girouard Vines in downtown Tulsa. Back in the 60s, he tagged along with his father George as he hunted for wild grapes growing in the woods near Lake Tenkiller.

"Indigenous vines to this area, bring them into our backyard vineyard and cross-pollinating them with traditional grape vines like Cab and Merlot, etc., all to create a new grapevine that would be acclimated to Oklahoma climate and make a really good red wine," Girouard said.

"We cut it off and took a dormant cutting from one of my father's vines is his backyard and grafted it onto the base," the winemaker continued.

Sounds easy, right? It isn't. After 45 years of trial and error, George Girouard has engineered four "Made in Oklahoma" vines that Chris is now growing commercially. Wine production should begin in a few years. In the meantime, Chris purchases unfinished wines from California, ages, blends and bottles them with a 'Tulsa twist.'

"Tulsa's Art Deco is really something that's impressive in this city, and it would be very label-like," said Chris Girouard, owner of Girouard Vines in downtown Tulsa. "It's art, and art has been featured on wine labels for centuries."

Their product is beautiful, unique and – award-winning.

"This wine won the 2009 Oklahoma State Wine Championship and also won a gold medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in 2010," Girouard said.

By 2013 or so, Chris hopes to be winning medals for a one-of-a-kind father and son wine.

"It just makes me feel good to carry on that project," he said.

This Friday, Chris will open Girouard Vines to the public to unveil a new wine: the Atlas Life Chardonnay.

It will be open for wine-tasting and mini-tours from 4 to 8 p.m.