The history of Girouard Vines Winery began over 50 years ago when George Girouard, our founder Chris Girouard’s father, began growing wine grapes in 1960 in the backyard of their Oklahoma City home. George, a Tulsa native, discovered after several years that many of the traditional wine grape varietals (i.e., of the vinifera species) were difficult to consistently grow in Oklahoma due to their propensity to contract fungus diseases (fungicides available today were not yet invented at that time) and due to the climatological extremes of Oklahoma.
In the mid-1960's, George began to breed his own hybrid grapevines in the backyard of his Oklahoma City home by cross-pollinating traditional premium red wine grapevines, such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, etc., with indigenous Native American grapevines that he and other grape-breeders in the area found growing in the wild.
George conducted his breeding program by searching for wild growing Native American grapevines in early autumn that appeared hardy, healthy and fruitful. George would mark candidates and then go back in the winter to take dormant cuttings to plant in his backyard. When one of the wild Native American specimens was mature, in the spring he would take pollen from a grape cluster flower of that wild varietal and put it on the flower of Cabernet Franc (for example) that he also had growing in his backyard. He would then bag that flower and the resulting 100 or so seeds in that grape cluster would be genetically one-half Cabernet Franc (in this example) and one-half that certain Native American varietal. However each seed would inherit different genetic qualities, good and bad, from the parent grapevines - just as with human children. He would then plant those seedlings in his Oklahoma City backyard, all hoping to get into a single seedling a new hybrid grape varietal that would be climate-hardy and produce a great tasting red wine.
Forty-years and thousands and thousands of seedlings later, George had at least four crosses, or new hybrid varietals, which he believed had enough promise to warrant commercial testing. These four varieties - “the George Girouard Hybrids” - from those grapevine crosses were eventually named By George, Valjohn, Plymouth and Southern Cross. Each of the George Girouard Hybrids bud late, ripen late, are cold hardy, heat tolerant and have very open clusters, thus making them more fungus resistant. Additionally, George thought that the small lots of wine that he made from those hybrid crosses tasted great!
In 2003, George’s son Chris joined the project by planting a vineyard with friends that included a small amount of the George Girouard Hybrids. Eventually, that led to Chris’ founding of the small, family owned and operated Girouard Vines commercial urban winery in the Bend Development of downtown Tulsa’s East Village District in 2007, and then expanding the vineyard plantings of the George Girouard Hybrids by grafting in to the Heringer Estates Vineyard in Clarksburg, California in 2010 with hopes of eventually producing a commercial wine from one or more of the four George Girouard Hybrids.
After Chris realized that producing a commercial wine made from the four George Girouard Hybrids could take an extended period of time, Chris decided to use his commercial winery to produce a different commercial wine to offset the costs of the hybrid project, which led to the launching of the Tulsa Deco wine brand in April 2009. The eight Tulsa Deco wines are all made from California grown vinifera grape varietals and are produced in a negociant type manner. That is, wine is produced from grapes grown in California by others, and then is shipped in bulk to the downtown Tulsa winery to be further aged. It is then blended and bottled in the urban winery. In 2012, so as to allow Chris the opportunity to pursue a career in another industry, Jan took over as President and COO to manage all winery operations.
The Tulsa Deco brand name was conceived to capture and honor a part of Tulsa history and to be fitting of the winery’s downtown location. Growing up, founder Chris Girouard learned to love the distinctive Art Deco structures throughout Tulsa thanks to his mother, Betty Ann. Born and raised in Tulsa, Betty Ann (O’Donovan) gained an appreciation of Tulsa’s architecture and Art Deco from her dad (Chris’ grandfather) and she instilled that appreciation in her son. Girouard Vines’ Tulsa Deco Wines not only honor Tulsa’s rich Art Deco history, but Chris’ mother and grandfather, too. We are proud of the award-wining wines inside the bottle, as well as the iconic buildings that grace the labels outside.
And finally, after all these years, Girouard Vines winery is proud to announce the commercial release of two wines in the new “Girouard Vines” wine brand - a Dry Rosé and a hearty Red Wine – both blends of wine produced 100% from George Girouard Hybrids that were grown in the winery’s Girouard Block plot in the Heringer Estates vineyard in Clarksburg, California. At harvest we deliver the grapes to Judd’s Hill winery on the Silverado Trail, Napa, California, where the grapes are crushed, fermented and aged. The wine is then shipped in bulk to Girouard Vines’ downtown Tulsa wine-production facility for further aging, blending and bottling. The Girouard Vines Red Wine is a blend of George Girouard Hybrids “Valjohn” (60%) and “Southern Cross” (40%) and the Rosé is a blend of George Girouard Hybrids “By George” (60%) and “Plymouth” (40%).
"This unique wine is not just new to our winery – it’s new to the world." Jan Girouard, President and COO