MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

March 6, 2014

Vintners ready for wine fest

Stroud couple has been part of Shrine benefit since it started

Don and Annetta Neal of Stroud call Muskogee their second home. The owners of StableRidge Vineyards have been bringing their flavor-filled wines to the Bedouin Shrine Flying Fez Wine Festival since it started 11 years ago.

“We show up for three events in Muskogee — the Chocolate Festival, Art in the Park and this,” Don Neal said.

Rory Robertson of Muskogee, the organizer of the festival that benefits Muskogee Bedouin Shrine Temple, said wines from 10 Oklahoma wineries will be featured from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Bedouin Shrine Temple, 201 S. Sixth St. Cost is $20, which includes a wine glass with an additional $10 for lunch. The temple transports children and one family member to hospitals.

Robertson called it “the No. 1 wine festival in Oklahoma.” Other wineries participating are Blue Coyote Winery of Adair, Oak Hills of Chelsea, Whispering Vines of Tulsa, Diamond Head Winery of Pryor, Plain View Winery of Lahoma, Summerside Vineyards of Vinita, Woods and Waters of Anadarko, Whispering Meadows of McAlester and Wakefield Country Inn and Winery of Gerty.

The Italian menu is the same as last year — spaghetti, ravioli, chicken fettuccine, bread, salad and dessert. New this year will be a the Cozy Cup Cafe booth from a business in Arrowhead Mall. Robertson tasted its coffee at the Chocolate Festival recently and invited the business to participate. He expects some chocolate treats, too.

Robertson is expecting 500 to 700 people. He and his wife, Debbi, rode their Harley-Davidson to visit the wineries and invite them back. All but one are returning, and a new one has been added, Diamond Head Winery of Pryor.

“People are always hunting something to do this time of year,” he said. “People are tired of being cooped up. Fifty degrees is not good weather for riding a motorcycle or working in the yard. This is a clean, fun environment with an upscale atmosphere.”

He will be sporting a black tuxedo with orange tie and suspenders. The temple will be decorated with green and purple balloons to represent the grapes. Tables will have table runners and flowers. Cheese and crackers will be available to cleanse the palate.

Some people come early and others stay all day, he said.

Neal said it’s one of his favorite festivals. Since he and his wife bought a home near Taylor’s Ferry, the area is their second home.

A Cherokee certified business, StableRidge Vineyards is near Route 66. Their business draws tourists because the wine tasting room is an original Catholic church built in 1898. Theirs is one of about 60 wineries in the state but only one of eight that makes its own wine, Neal said.

“Our grapes come from Oklahoma,” he said. “We do it all.”

He said the central Oklahoma area is good for growing European and California grapes, but other parts of Oklahoma are not. Their No. 1 best-seller is Jeremiah’s Red, a merlot cabernet black berry. Guests at this wine fest will be able to taste their new wine, Red Red. Wild Thing is another winner for them.

The Neals are looking forward to this weekend’s wine fest, where they’ll bring nine or 10 wines to sample.

“Muskogee is friend’s stuff now,” he said.

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