The Hobby That Got Out of Control: Strebel Creek Winery
If you’ve been in northwest Oklahoma City, chances are you’ve driven past it many times. Noticed it as you made your way to your intended destination. Probably wondered about it and made a note to stop in there “one of these days.” It’s Strebel Creek Winery we’re talking about here.
Located on North MacArthur between Hefner and 122nd, it was the first winery in Oklahoma City and began when a frustrated wife issued an ultimatum to her husband. Dr. Gary Strebel started experimenting with some wild grapes that were growing on the land when they purchased it over 40 years ago. He and his wife, Sherry, first made jam from the grapes, then Gary decided to try his hand at making wine. His first batch consisted of 9 bottles, which he offered to some friends in a blind tasting. Everyone said they liked the “mystery wine” better than all the other commercially made wines, and Gary knew he was onto something. A few years into his new hobby found his wife growing increasingly annoyed because, in her words, the wine was taking over the house. She told Gary that he either needed to stop making it or start selling it. So, he added on to the barn that was an original structure on the property, built a tasting room and a processing room, and that’s when Strebel Creek Winery was born.
Opening a winery in the early 2000s in Oklahoma was an arduous task, and Gary spent months working with the City Council and various state and federal agencies to get proper clearance to open for business, which finally happened in 2008.
In addition to the small vineyard in the front of the property and the tasting room, there is a gift shop which rivals any I’ve seen, even in some of the larger, more well-known wineries I’ve visited in California. It’s Sherry’s venture, and she’s done a great job of stocking the store with all kinds of fun and interesting items, including wine merch (of course), household items, bags, accessories, jewelry, and a good amount of OU and OSU gift items. Even if you’re not a wine fan, it’s a little hidden gem that you should take a minute to visit, especially if you’re looking for a unique gift. The selections are plentiful, and the prices are very reasonable.
And, oh yes, there’s wine available too. Lots of wine. We sampled several varietals, including whites, pinks, and reds, and there was not a one in the bunch that I didn’t think I would enjoy drinking in much higher quantities. But I’ll let you be the judge when you go for your tasting.
Gary, also known as Dr. Strebel—he is still a practicing physician—does all the growing, picking, processing, and bottling himself at the rate of about 5,000 bottles per year. All the wines are sold strictly from the winery. They don’t sell in any stores, nor do they ship. So, to enjoy Strebel Creek wines, you have to go into the winery, and I’ll just say that it would be well worth the visit. And as we get into the warmer months, the patio would make a great place to relax and enjoy a glass before making your purchases to take home.
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