Surrounded by vineyards, the winery already qualifies as one of the nicest in the state. The focus of the spacious interior is the beautiful, dark, handcrafted woodwork of the tasting room. A large, marble-topped tasting bar frames a stunning tile mosaic on the wall behind it featuring the flying goose logo of the winery. The large, open interior with 30’ ceilings has several comfortable seating areas for a few or many, including a cozy loft area with couches and a back room overlooking the vineyards with tables and chairs for 50. An outdoor patio features a large stage where I look forward to seeing entertainment in the warmer months.
In the vineyard, Mike has wisely chosen to bypass the usual vinifera suspects (Chardonnay, Cabernet, etc.) to plant grape varietals God meant to grow in Oklahoma terroir (a term to which I hope to devote an entire future blog). Behind the winery are several acres of Cynthiana (also known as Norton, the official state grape of Missouri, where some wineries produce big reds from it that in my humble opinion rival many California Cabernets); Chardonel (a variety that done right can make a wine rivaling that of one of its parents, Chardonnay); and, Chambourcin. The front of the winery features rows of Villard Blanc and the hearty labrusca varietals Concord, Catawba, and Niagara. Time will tell if the notorious “foxy” flavors of these grapes can be tamed by blending or other winery magic.
The bad news is that Gander’s first harvest and crush occurred just this past August, so no estate wines are yet available for tasting. The good news is that in the meantime, our wine brethren to the East, Post Familie Vineyards in Altus, Arkansas, are supplying wines to sell under the Gander label. A review of Post wines will wait for another blog another day, but one now being sold at Gander merits mention – the non-vintage generic “Red”. Its ripe, dark berry notes from the Cynthiana grape are perfectly blended with the softer edge of Merlot to produce a very drinkable medium body wine – and at $10, it’s a real bargain.
For more information on Gander visit their website at www.ganderway.com.