Our featured partner this week is Strebel Creek Winery & Gift Shop, a vineyard and shop located on North MacArthur in Oklahoma City. Starting out as hobby winemakers, Gary and Sherry Strebel have nurtured their business for more than 10 years. Sherry gave us some insight into the formation of their establishment, their experiences creating wine, and the ways that they enjoy connecting with their customers:
How did you become inspired to open a winery and gift shop?
Dr. Strebel (Gary, a practicing OB/Gyn physician) made wine as a hobby beginning in 1996. After making wine for several years and making more wine than we could possibly use or giveaway, we decided to apply for the licenses to sell commercially. Our Grand Opening of the winery and gift shop was in July 2007…we celebrated our 10th year this past summer.
As for the gift shop, I grew up in Antlers in southeastern Oklahoma where my father owned and operated a General Merchandise Store. Having grown up in that venue, it only seemed natural to open a gift shop to compliment the winery. In the beginning, I only carried wine accessories, (glasses, wine openers, etc.) but after learning a little about our clientele, I decided to expand to carrying limited clothing, purses, jewelry, gift items, etc. So people who don’t know about the shop are pleasantly surprised when they walk in the door.
How do you know when you have a particularly good vintage? Do you have a favorite varietal to work with?
You know by the quality of the grapes and the way the wine tastes…such as my 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, my white merlot and my Chardonnay (even though I don’t like growing chardonnay grapes because they are particularly difficult to grow in the Oklahoma weather, since they bud out too early in our sometimes premature spring and then with that traditional Easter cold snap, they get bitten back.) I use all the grapes in my small vineyard but I also buy many of the grapes from a vineyard in Edmond which grows grapes but doesn’t make wine.
What is one of the most rewarding aspects of what you do?
Besides making good wine for peoples’ enjoyment, it is the mingling with and getting to know our customers and watching the surprise on their faces when they discover my wine is better than they were expecting. We get people from all over the country who come to visit our winery and gift shop, many of whom make an effort to return when they are back in the area. And we’ve had many out-of-state customers who tell us they’ve been told they “have to visit the winery and gift shop” when they come by or through Oklahoma City. We are so appreciative of that.
Why do you support Allied Arts through participation in the OKCityCard?
We’ve always supported Allied Arts in Oklahoma because we believe a city who has a strong participation in all of the arts makes for a much more diverse and interesting community. We are grateful that we have that in Oklahoma City. We look forward to welcoming those holders of the OKCityCard into our winery and gift shop.
What does the art of winemaking mean to you?
It’s the ability to experiment with a product and a common recipe and turn it into something special to be enjoyed by others. Each vintage made basically the same way turns into a slightly different taste because of the different chemistry in the grapes caused by their environment (weather, rain, soil, temperature). I love sitting around the bar during a wine tasting and attempting to educate my guests on how the wine is made, the different tastes they may be discovering and the best ways to taste and enjoy the wine.