Caves keep wine cool
Winemakers like wine caves for several reasons, said Glen Ragsdale of Glen Ragsdale Underground Associates Inc., in Angwin, Calif., a construction firm that specializes in underground projects and has been building wine caves for 30 years.
“Inside the cave is the absolute best temperature to store wine in barrels — about 60 degrees,” Ragsdale said. “And it doesn't require air conditioning. That's the natural underground temperature.”
It also reduces the evaporation rate of wine from the barrels, he said, reducing the cost of topping off the barrels. And the wine caves add mystique and another aspect of a winery tour.
At Clauren Ridge, visitors who stop by for a wine tasting receive a free tour and samples of wine-infused truffles. The veranda is open for sipping and offers a view of the young vineyard, planted about two years ago.
Thomas Ingmire said he'd love to have more wineries and vineyards open nearby, adding to the wine tour appeal found in Napa Valley.
Oklahoma now has more than 60 wineries and 500 to 600 acres of vineyards, showing exponential industry growth in just the past decade, said Gene Clifton, president of the Oklahoma Grape Industry Council. The trend toward warm, dry summers and mild winters has improved growing conditions, making vineyards more successful.
But it still takes three to four years for newly planted vines to produce a good crop, and many entrepreneurs are seeking a quicker return on investment, said Clifton, who owns Canadian River Vineyards and Winery in Slaughterville.
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