LUTHER, Okla. (KFOR) – It is a fertile spot right now, green from spring rains, and as the summer’s heat starts to bake in.
“Our main goal is sunlight and air flow,” says vintner Brandon Schaben who was just a cash starved high school kid when his dad planted sand plums, blackberries, grapes and even a golf course in Wildhorse Canyon.
“You look around us now and you’d think we must be crazy planting this many vines in such tough conditions,” he continues.
Grapes are hearty plants with deep roots. The right varieties thrive here pushing through sandy soil. It’s the extremes that tend to hurt yields.
A tornado in 2013 damaged property and stripped the vines. A cold snap in 2021 killed off everything that grew above ground.
“That was 2 weeks of minus temperatures,” he recalls. “Only the heartiest of varieties could stand that.”
But the roots survived which is when Randy and his family started comparing their grapes with the people who grew them.
“Grapes are hearty. They grow through rocks in Israel and they grow through sandy soil in Oklahoma.”
“They’re an embodiment of the people of this state. When you think we’re down, we’re actually coming right back.”
2023 has been a good year so far, mild weather, good rains. There are still threats though, from deer, birds, even coyotes chewing through irrigation lines.
“Everything in the woods treats us as a buffet,” he quips.
But grapes and enthusiasm remain hard to kill in Wildhorse Canyon. Randy’s family, including wife, parents, and even his two-year-old daughter pitch in when needed.
The label grows 30 different varieties of grapes and bottles more than 20 different wines sold all over the state.
There is an old saying that a grape vine that has to struggle produces fruit with more complex flavors. Schaben knows it’s more about timing that anything else, when to pick, when to juice.
But with deep roots there is always life, picked, pressed, and poured. The very essence reveals itself in a clear glass.
“Everything condenses to the finished product.”
The Wildhorse Canyon label is one of several featured in a weekend event Saturday, June 3, 2023 called ‘Wines of the West’
To learn more about the event or to get tickets, go to eventbrite.com.
For more information about Wildhorse Canyon Winery, go to wildhorsecanyonfarms.com.
Great State is sponsored by Oklahoma Proton Center