In a bid to create a much-needed tourism boom to the region, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma has turned a portion of its land into a vineyard and winery.
Descended from the Seminole tribe of what is now Florida, members of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma belong to the largest federally recognized Seminole government, with its own tribal economy, education programs, and community facilities. An essential part of the Nation’s economy is its annual festivals and events celebrating Seminole culture, which are open to the public.
“The winery and vineyard offers a source of economic diversity,” Leonard Harjo, principal chief of the Seminole Nation, told the Journal Record. “We have a lot of individuals with small acreages within the Seminole Nation, and we were looking for a way for them to earn some income.”
After a year of training in viniculture, 10 local citizens will plant the first set of grapes this spring, sourced from California and Arkansas. Over the next five years, a grant from the Administration for Native Americans will fund 40 growers, allowing for 62 acres of vineyard space. The vineyard will take at least four years before the grapes are suitable for winemaking. Grape-growers who wish to participate do not have to be Seminole, and only need to have half an acre of land available.
“We want to make sure we’ve done our homework,” said Chad Ainsworth, managing director for Seminole Nation Winery and Vineyard. “We want to put the right grape in the right soil.”