Nebraska is known for its agriculture, as it offers a variety of food crops from the many farms that make up the landscape. As an advantage for wine lovers, grapes are among the crops grown here, especially in the east of the state. The confluence of the Platte and Missouri rivers creates wonderful valleys and a perfect environment with the many wineries in Nebraska awaiting your visit.
Let’s look at the Nebraska wine industry, and explore Omaha and beyond.
Nebraska, like other western states, has a long tradition of growing grapes and making wine. Prior to the ban, 5,000 acres of grapes were grown in rural Nebraska. Since the mid-80s, the Nebraska wine industry has taken off and is now covering wineries in every region of the state.
While most people associate Nebraska’s land with mixed cornfields, that image is misleading. Interestingly, Nebraska has many different microclimates. That’s especially true of Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska’s two largest cities in the eastern part of the state.
Nebraska has more than 25 wineries, and almost all of them rely on Nebraska’s fruits and grapes to create wines that are well-known and respected by wine consumers and the wine press. We discussed the Nebraska wine industry with Carey Potter, executive director of the Nebraska Winery and Grape Breeders Association, who shared some promising news about the industry. Plans are being made to officially designate one or more Nebraska wine routes, with the collaboration and support of the Nebraska Department of Travel and Tourism.
People often ask us, “How can a wine in one southwestern state be so different from another?”. The answer is simple – the earth. Different climatic and geophysical conditions give the grapes different flavors, and it is a fascinating discovery to see the end result.
That said, we visited five wineries in the Nebraska Metro Region, located around the Omaha River, Missouri, and Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, in less than an hour.
Join us as we learn more about Omaha, Lincoln and Nebraska wines.
It’s as comfortable as getting to Omahara. Located directly in the center of the country, you will find the Omaha Interstate 80 exit east / west or Interstate 29 north to south.
And once you get here, you’ll realize why so many people love Omahaz. The downtown area is compact and easy to navigate, with plenty of dining and entertainment options. History is celebrated here, even as the city has evolved and gone with high technology. Most of the smiles are real and the western hospitality industry is alive and well.
We arrived in the middle of the morning, eager to pick up some Omaha monitors before the evening.
Downtown Omaha is the Old Market District, a revered historic site with brick streets lined with shops and restaurants. We were planning to have dinner in the Old Market. So we headed to Lauritz Gardens in southern Omaha and next to Henry Dourly Zoo and Rosenblatt Stadium for the College Baseball World Series.
Lauritz Gardens, Omaha’s main botanical garden, is a 100-acre tranquility for a little walking exercise. Stroll through the rose gardens, Victorian garden, trees or flower show. After lunch at Johnny’s Cafe and Steakhouse, a wonderful history steeped in Omaha tradition since 1922, it’s time to explore Omaha’s relationship with the Missouri River in the River Star River.
On the Missouri River
In this hour on the Missouri River, you’ll walk through the parks of the Omaha River, including Lewis and Clark Landing. This 23-acre park site is one of Omaha’s meeting places, with its river wall, harbor harbor and live nightly music. You’ll also pass the Heartland Park in America and the Fountain, the Omaha skyline and the city center’s Council Bluffs Iowa across the river.
Omaha Area Wineries
A good afternoon later, we took the road to explore two wineries around Omaha.
Starting in southern Omaha, the subway area turns into a rich river valley, with expansive farms along the way. Seeing why agriculture is so likely to be seen here can be seen when the Missouri River and fertile lands combine with a bountiful harvest.
15 minutes south of Omahar, in the middle of this slow valley, you will find vineyards called Soaring Wings Vineyard. Since 2003, the Shaw family has operated this 11-acre winery and vineyard on land that was previously native to America. Numerous artifacts have been found there, and agriculture has been a primary search since the 1800s.
The tasting room and outdoor terrace here are the perfect way to take a few hours away on a sunny afternoon. Inside or outside, you will take in a panoramic view of the surrounding valley. You can buy Soaring Wings wine by the glass, paired with Nebraska-made cheese, sausage and other delicacies. Local art adorns the walls, and the band Soaring Wings organizes live music activities on Friday nights and Sunday evenings.
Going up to the tasting bar, we really enjoyed tasting so many different styles. Soaring Wings wines have won nearly 150 medals in international competitions. So all the options chosen will be with your palate. Our favorite was a slightly dry red, from the Special Reserve St. Cross. Made from grapes grown east of the Nebraska River Valley, it is a rich and tough wine with a dark range of fruits.
For all the hobbies of the fans, go for Winter White, in search of the most popular wine from Soaring Wings. This wine offers a touch of sweetness, balanced and meticulous. There is a slightly sweeter red, Mystic Red, completely burst the fruit.
To the south, 50 minutes from the city of Omaha Nebraska, are the Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard. This popular destination has a long history, dating back to 1925.
Located on fertile agricultural land in the Missouri River Valley, Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard is dedicated to agricultural education, agritourism and historic conservation. It includes programs and classes at the University of Nebraska, and there are a wide range of events for the general public throughout the year. He is also the first member of the Kimmel Arbor Day Foundation.
On the visit, we visited the vineyard and learned what grapes are grown in this corner of Nebraska. You will find the vineyards of LaCrosse, Concord, Chambourcin and Vignoles. Elsewhere around two special routes that cross meanders, you’ll also find cider pressing demonstrations and a harvest of fruits and vegetables. Stop and enjoy a chair or picnic at one of the tables.
The best part of the day is to spend the best day at Kimmel Orchard, making a stop at the cider house at the Apple Barn. For lovers of white wine, try LaCrosse, a sweet roasted gem with the scent of melon and pear. Or have fun with apple cider vinegar, created here with a cider apple.
To save as much as possible, we switched to red wine with Kimmel Orchard’s DeChaunac. This French hybrid grape produces dry red wine that is thick, rich and full-bodied. Equally gratifying was Chambourcin, one of our personal favorites. This wine offers an excellent balance of dark fruit flavors with intense spicy kicks.
Omaha at night
Looking forward to a happy hour and dinner, we headed back to downtown Omaha to our Old Market destination.
Like the heart of Omaha, the Old Market offers special shops to suit any taste and budget of local restaurants, as well as keep you busy with hours of art and entertainment. The four blocks have restored warehouses, old lighting and real brick streets. Rich in history and modern and contemporary, Old Market Omaha is at its best.
While you are in the Old Market, stop to buy All, colorful gallery prints, jewelry and historical souvenirs. Or head into a cold at Barry O’s Old Market Tavern. There is a worldwide wine list that has been in the role of M’s Pub, an Old Market product for over 30 years.
Omaha has long been known as a haven for large steaks, and with that, we stopped at the Upstream Brewing Company for drinks and dinner. Set in a refurbished fire department, Upstream’s name comes from the original American meaning of the word “Omaha,” as opposed to ascending or present.
The beer here is magnificent. We started with a row of tasters, 4 oz. Sample of everything. It’s easy on the Gold Coast Blonde, while the American Wheat is on the cutting edge, and the Firehouse ESB is wonderful. For something a little more rigid, try the fresh and sharp India Pale Ale or my favorite, the thick, creamy Blackstone Stout, a landmark of the former Omaha Hotel.
After dinner, you can explore the nightlife options in the Old Market or take a stroll around. Far from the center, there is plenty of nightlife, entertainment and dining options on Dodge Street, Omaha’s main east / west highway.
After an early visit with more visits to Omaha, we headed west on Interstate 80 for a short trip to Lincoln. We made our first visit in the late 1990s to Lincoln, the capital city of Nebraska, less than an hour from Omaha. You don’t need a mile mark or GPS to know you’re near Lincoln … see the horizon and you’ll see the Nebraska State Capitol Building.
Lincoln is a hard-working and witty town, not only the state government but also the University of Nebraska. There are rules in football here, and there’s a good atmosphere on campus and downtown. By arranging overnight stays, we had plenty of time to explore the community.
The Lincoln area is home to three of Nebraska’s most popular wineries. We had a visit on the first evening, and the other two the next day. But first, a small visit was fine. Let’s look at Lincoln …
Top and Haymarket view
The first stop we made in Lincoln was the Art Deco-style State Capitol building, one of the most elegant and elegant built in the U.S. from 1922 to 1932, costing $ 10 million, the building has an extra four hundred-foot dome tower and a low-expansion base. and interior works of art that represent the natural, social, and political development of Nebraska. Be sure to visit the observation deck on the 14th floor in and around Lincoln and the surrounding countryside.
The historic Haymarket site is less than a mile from the city center to Lincoln’s main attractions. Named after the original market square that was created in the late 1800s, this destination in downtown Lincoln is a shopping and dining area. Here we have one of our favorite stores, From Nebraska, with local products, including Nebraska wines. In fact, there is also a tasting bar here. So you can do it the way we did and taste the wines from wineries across the state.
Classic Lincoln and first country
Afternoon plans called for a winery visit outside the city limits, so a quick meal was fine. We met a small chain of local fast food called the Lincoln Convention and the Runza Restaurant of the Visitor’s Office and were able to locate a Runza branch on the way to the winery.
There’s a reason Runza restaurants have been “Lincoln Classic for over 50 years”. You need to try the original Runza sandwich. It’s fresh bread stuffed with dry ground beef, rotated together and baked … it’s kind of like a cross between a wrapper and a burrito. And don’t miss the Runza onion rings: they’re doubled, perfectly crushed, and oh so delicious!
It’s incredibly easy to walk around Lincoln, and the very short drive took us to the Prime Country winery, a mile southwest of Lincoln in the city of Denton.
Prime Country is the true taste of Nebraska, as it is made with grapes grown in all wines. Vineyards DeChaunac, LaCrosse, Concord, Edelweiss and St. Vincent has grapes, among other things, the end product is used in a single wine or in mixed varieties.
We felt the pink wines featured here, especially Denton Blush, a medium dry wine made with the same blends of red and white grapes. Thinking of pairing the wine with the steak, we tasted and bought Nebraska Red, a confirmation that Dechaunac is not a dry red made from grapes.
Prime Country offers a dozen wines, from white to red and dry and sweet. They will welcome your visit around the year.
The first winery the next day, Deer Springs Winery, is located in a quiet country northeast of Lincoln. We expected to visit here as a Prime Country winery, as most of the wines from Deer Springs are grapes grown on the site. A family-run operation, the tasting room at Deer Creek was a restored home in the late 1800s. There is an outdoor garden to sit and enjoy with a wine medication or picnic, and there are a variety of events during the spring and summer months.
Deer Springs offers a full line of reds and whites, so there are plenty of options. But we especially recommend two white wines, Brianna and White Butterfly. Both wines are semi-dry, with a hint of sweetness, but the more distinctive of the two are the flavors of tropical fruits. Prairie Sunrise was another winner, a bit drier, almost chardonnay style.
Our favorite Deer Springs red wine was a raffle between Prairie Sunset and Autumn Woods (love those names!). Prairie Sunset St. Vincent and St. Croix grapes are a mixture of purple and deep colors. Autumn Woods are drier, with a disturbing and spicy feature that we thought of pairing with smoke or barbecue. Several bottles were added to our Nebraska wine collection in bloom!
Our last winery on this trip was one of the largest and most popular in Nebraska, James Arthur Vineyards, open since 1997 in the city of Raymond and 15 minutes from Lincoln.
Located on this rural hill next to a 20-acre vineyard, James Arthur Vineyards offers plenty of seating in a closed porch or in the shade of three toes. Enjoy a bottle of wine from the outside, combined with one of several baskets filled with special foods straight from the Nebraska treatment plant.
This special evening we enjoyed some of the most interesting wines we tasted on our trip to Nebraska. It’s Snowy Egret, a white wine made from a grape called Geisenheim. Slightly sweet, with the undeniable aroma and aroma of grapefruit, it is a very unique style and very drinkable. As much as possible, the money from each bottle sold is donated to Lincoln Children’s Zoo.
Just as interesting as San Realto, almost in the Sangria style. Winery staff call San Realto red wine for those who don’t like dry reds. It is made with DeChaunac grapes, with a small amount of Concord grapes added for sweetness. And then James Arthur, who grew up in the vineyard. Gamebird White, made with pepin grapes, is somewhat complex and intricate.
The James Arthur vineyards will send you their wines (depending on where you live), so jump in, order some and try the true taste of Nebraska.
Reflections on Nebraska
Getting to know the wine is a lot of fun and Nebraska wine was a great find for us. Before this trip, we had never tasted a Nebraska wine. The winemakers here are proud of their craftsmanship, and it sparked our desire to use local grapes in the winemaking process. And as shipping regulations are gradually easing, it’s more convenient than ever to try Nebraska wine.
At some point, we plan to revisit and explore the rest of Nebraska’s wineries. There are several in western Nebraska, and others in the planning stages. The Nebraska Winery and Vineyard Association is promoting promotional ideas to support and market the state’s wine industry, which will certainly raise the profile of Nebraska wines.
If your travel plans take you through the mid-80s, on Interstate 80, make sure you stop in Omaha and Lincoln. We really enjoyed the great food, the local attractions, and most of all the real western hospitality.