An Omaha Magazine web exclusive published June 19, 2015.
Nebraska is known for its corn and never ending plains, Omaha more specifically for its steaks, but Nebraska Wine Tours wants to change that.
Wine? In Nebraska? Well, it’s been here for the last twenty years following the Nebraska Farm Winery Act of 1986 and there are currently thirty-one active wineries across the state.
The still growing industry boasts 100 grape growers and ten tasting rooms serving up your favorite whites and reds creating a 150.8 million dollar economic impact on the state.
A trip to Napa Valley seems less desirable when you realize you could have stayed home this summer and traveled through your home state. At least that’s what Renae Kelly and her daughter Kris Ballard owners of Nebraska Wine Tours hope.
The idea was still “brewing” as their website notes in 2012 when Kelly, a retired school teacher and Ballard, a marketing professional realized there was a market for their favorite pastime.
Kelly frequented the Wine Passport program and always got her friends and family involved.
“Everyone was always asking me when the next tour was, so I said to Kris, I wonder if I could make this a job,” Renae said.
Now Renae drives the 12-passenger van that takes tour goers through their choice of the Missouri River Trot or Platte River Dash tours.
Each tour includes stops at four vineyards where you can sample an average of five wines while learning about the process from vine to your glass.
To keep the palate clean during your tour there are no snacks provided, just water, but you are able to bring your own cooler if you wish.
I suggest bringing something small, because the tours last several hours and you may get hungry. Also wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather as you will be outside part of the time.
Up to ten people are allowed per tour and smaller groups can be combined, so don’t feel that you need to find nine friends to join you. For the experience $99 per person is a reasonable price when you take into account the mileage, convenience, wine, and overall experience. This would be a great idea for a bachelorette party or birthday occasion.