NORMAN — Wine and cheese paired up last month at Oklahoma’s first statewide wine competition during the Watonga Cheese and Wine Festival. The award for Best Oklahoma Red went to Redbud Ridge Vineyard and Winery in Norman for the dry Oklahoma Syrah.
There were 65 entries in the inaugural wine competition and a 35 percent increase in attendance at the festival, organizers reported.
“Over the years, Oklahoma wine has grown from a few small wineries, into a blossoming industry and each of these wines are a wonderful example of how this unlikely industry has come of age in our state,” said Andy Barrett, chairman of the Watonga Cheese and Wine Festival. “We celebrate the excellence of each of these wineries.”
Wines entered in the competition were judged by class and division.
“As you’re trying to put the wine in the bottle, you’re thinking about what else you need to add for compexity,” said Tom Knotts, co-owner of Redbud Ridge Vineyard & Winery. “These grapes were grown in north Oklahoma City. For a wine to be called by the varietal name, they have to have 75 percent but this wine has 80 percent Syrah. I felt like it needed a little addition so it has 10 percent Tempranillo and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Knotts said Syrah is difficult to get ripened in Oklahoma, so he’s only used those grapes twice. This was a 2010 vintage.
“I try my best to only use fully ripened grapes and so I have to be particular about that when I’m looking for grapes,” Knotts said.
Wine entries were assigned medals based on a cumulative scoring system, according to festival officials. Wines were evaluated on appearance, bouquet, flavor and varietal accuracy. Redbud Ridge won silver medals for a Riesling and for “Wine for Stoops” and a bronze for the “Big Red Steak Wine.”