Nebraska Stories | Vintage Winery

Nebraska Stories | Vintage Winery


acoustic guitar music) JIM BALLARD:
We can’t grow things that
people aren’t familiar with in terms of the varietals. You know we can’t, I shouldn’t
say we can’t grow them. We could, but it would
be very difficult, and we probably wouldn’t
be very successful. So we can’t grow the vinifera’s
like the chardonnays, the cabernets, the merlots. We grow all
French-American hybrids. Things that have been developed
to grow in the Midwest, to grow in colder climates. For example, in Nebraska our signature grape
is called Edelweiss. It’s a Minnesota varietal. It started out as a table grape. I think Nebraska
probably has more acres than anybody in the world
of Edelweiss grapes. (soft music) Primarily the grapes that
we grow here are Edelweiss, LaCrosse, Concord, Vignoles,
St. Croix, St. Pepin. We also get Brianna
that comes in to us, Frontenac, St. Vincent. There’s a number of grapes. If you look in a
grape dictionary, there’s like thousand and thousands of
varieties. And what we’re always trying
to do is to find new varieties that may work here in Nebraska. May be the next greatest
variety to make a great wine. NARRATOR: Nebraska is
a relative newcomer in Midwestern wine production. James Arthur Vineyards has
been there since that beginning and has grown to become the
largest winery in the state. (soft music) BALLARD:
Everything you see out here
the building, the landscaping everything we’ve created was
kind of a hobby to begin with that got a little
out of control. (soft music) (running water) BALLARD:
About 20, 24 years ago… my father-in-law, James Arthur Jeffers,
had the property. And I went to him and I said, “You know, I had this
professor in college “that always talked
about a small vineyard “that he had owned.” And I said, “I’d like
to grow some grapes.” And he looked at me
kind of funny and said, “I love this, let’s
give it a shot.” BARB BALLARD:
He eventually owned his
own meat packing plant in Omaha and had the
opportunity to sell it. So, this was his retirement. He bought this land. (soft music) He was gonna do a pick and
eat apple tree orchard. That was his original
plan for this land. We put in the grapes
about the same time. BALLARD:
We were actually the second
winery to open in the state of Nebraska. The first one in
Pierce, Nebraska, Cuthills Vineyard was
just getting started. Missouri had a wine industry that was just
starting to take off. They were
starting to grow grapes
and open wineries in Iowa. One day Jim, my father-in-law,
came to me and said, “You know if they can do
this in Pierce, and Missouri, and Iowa why not
here in Nebraska?” So then we started to really
put the wheels in motion. Start going out and finding
people as crazy as us that wanted to grow grapes. I think he’s truly the pioneer of the wine industry
in Nebraska. And we were very fortunate
to be there at the beginning. We all want to
create Nebraska wine. (clacking) You go to some states
and they may say, “Hey, we’re such
and such winery.” And then you find out that
all their grapes come in from other parts of the world. Nebraska we’re not like that. We truly want to make a
great Nebraska product and I think that’s
what has helped us be so successful in this industry. And it’s changing, it’s
evolving, it always will. (crunching and pattering) There’s a law in
Nebraska that 75% of everything we produce
has to be grown in Nebraska, and I like that. I like that law
because that means that we’re a Nebraska winery. We strive to be 100%. My philosophy on wine making
is that it’s about 50% science and about 50% art. The science part is making sure
all your numbers are right. Making sure your
pHs and your acids and everything is in balance, so that you have a
well balanced wine. The art part is creating a wine that people are
truly going to enjoy. The blending, the
mixing, the matching, the making sure that
wine is the right color. And so that art part of
it is very important. So if you blend
those two together I think you can make
some great wine that way. We’ve got Sweet Charlotte
named after our mom, Two Brothers, I’ve got Eden’s
Blush after our daughter, Two Brothers after my two sons. I’ve got five bottles of it. It gives me a good idea of how
well our wines are gonna age. What I decided to do,
from the very beginning, is create a wine library. And a lot of times folks
will come up to us and say, “Well how’s this gonna age? “What’s it taste like?” And I’m like, “I have no
idea, this is new for us. “We’re not sure what’s gonna
happen here in Nebraska, “what things are gonna
taste like down the road.” Some of it for posterity, some it for research to
find out what’s going on, and then some of
it just for fun. NARRATOR: As more and
more people discover locally made wines, wine makers like Jim see the
industry continuously evolving. BALLARD:
Since we’ve opened the winery, and I’ll give Nebraska
wines credit for this, I’ve seen a lot of people
approach wine and try wine that maybe wouldn’t have
tried it before simply because it’s made in Nebraska. And they wanted to try and
experience Nebraska wine and it’s opened up
a whole new world for those people, I think. (soft music) For so long it was so serious. I think it’s becoming more of an everyday type
of drink as well. You’ll see more younger people
enjoying wine, trying wine, that when I was growing
up you didn’t see that. You didn’t talk
about wine like that. So that’s been exciting to see and how the whole industry
is kind of changed and is evolving. Kind of like Nebraska wine,
like James Arthur Vineyards, like me as a wine maker,
we always have to evolve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *