When most people think of Nebraska, wine might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, the Cornhusker State boasts a number of excellent vineyards and wineries that are making some exceptional wines. Check out these two standout wineries in Nebraska.
James Arthur Vineyards
One of Nebraska’s largest vineyards, James Arthur Vineyards is located on a 400-acre estate of prairie grasslands near the town of Raymond, just north of Lincoln. Every year, thousands of visitors arrive to sample James Arthur’s award-winning wines.
The winery’s selection of red wines includes the 2016 St. Croix, made exclusively with St. Croix grapes from Nebraska. This dry wine was aged for 14 months in American oak barrels and pairs well with steak or even a dark chocolate dessert. A consistent favorite at the winery, the 2016 Nebraska Red is a blend of St. Croix, Frontenac, and St. Vincent grapes. A medium-bodied wine, it was aged for one year in American oak barrels prior to bottling.
James Arthur Vineyards’ white wines include the 2016 Nebraska White, which is made exclusively from LaCrosse grapes. This award-winning wine underwent fermentation and aging in stainless steel, and the result is a crisp, refreshing semi-sweet wine. Another semi-sweet white wine, the award-winning Heartland White is typically made with LaCrosse grapes. However, due to an inclement growing season, the 2016 vintage was made with LaCrescent grapes. Either way, the Heartland White pairs well with chicken, fish, and seafood.
James Arthur also makes a dessert wine called Tropasti, which is fortified with grape brandy made from the winery’s White St. Croix. This dessert wine has plum overtones and goes well on its own or with a chocolate dessert.
Visitors can sample these and other excellent wines in the tasting room or on the covered deck near the waterfall. The winery also invites guests to take a stroll around the vineyard and orchard and enjoy this beautiful estate in Heartland country.
Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewing
Located in Springfield, Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewing is owned by Jim Shaw, a former pilot for both the US Air Force and a major airline. He started the vineyard nearly 20 years ago as a project after retirement, and the vineyard has “soared” ever since.
Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewing has produced a number of award-winning wines, including the Omaha Red, a double gold-, silver-, and bronze-medal winner that is similar to Pinot Noir and features light cherry notes and a dash of cinnamon. Other semi-dry wines include the Soaring Eagle, a bronze-medal winner that’s a blend of several red wine varieties from Nebraska. Aged in American oak barrels, this wine features hints of pepper and soft fruit notes.
White wines at Soaring Wings include the Winter White, which was named three times as one of the top 50 wines made east of the West Coast. The winery’s most popular white wine, the Winter White bears resemblance to Riesling and features a smooth finish. Another white wine, the Ice Falcon, has garnered five medals, including a Double Gold. A blend of Vignoles, LaCrosse, and Chardonel, this wine is also similar to Riesling and features a fruity taste and a crisp finish.
Meanwhile, one of the most popular Nebraska wines is a sweet wine called Edelweiss. Sold on tap, Edelweiss is similar to sweet Germanic wines, and it features crisp apple notes and a floral nose.
In addition to white and red wines, Soaring Wings produces blush wine. The Gold medal-winning Hummingbird has a salmon color and notes of green apple and tart cherry, while the Blushing Hawk is a fruity wine with watermelon and strawberry notes.
Finally, Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewery produces a Port, appropriately named Cap’N Jim’s AirPORT. This dessert wine, with notes of cherry, is aged in oak barrels for at least a year.
When visiting Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewery, be sure to also check out some of the innovative beers made on-site, including the Aviator English Ale, the Interstellar Transport, and the Pegasus Pilsner. In addition to serving its beers on tap, the winery allows guests to purchase growlers to take home.
The above two wineries offer a great start to your foray into Nebraska wine country. Before visiting, be sure to check their websites for updates on new vintages and offerings. With these two wineries, you may find that Nebraska wines rival some of your favorites from major wine regions.