James Arthur Vineyards opened its doors in 1997, just the second winery in Nebraska, and co-owner Jim Ballard hasn’t looked back since. The thriving business, including an expansive tasting room, vineyard, and production facility, is located on 400 bucolic acres just outside Lincoln. Serving customers from all fifty states and, last Ballard checked, over fifty foreign nations is a marvel to the co-owner who shared, “I have made friends literally all over the world.”
As a native Nebraskan, Ballard is proud to offer products that are 100 percent Nebraska grown, produced, and raised, especially when visitors declare it’s the best wine they’ve tasted. Customer service is paramount, and Ballard tells staff, “When someone walks through that front door, they are really visiting our home.”
The grapes grown in the vineyard are French-American hybrids and American varietals well-suited to the unique climate in the Midwest, which means they do not taste like bold Napa Cabernets or Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs. However, when oenophiles leave their preconceived notions and experiences at the door and indulge in a flight, many find themselves beguiled by Edelweiss, the most popular and award-winning offering at James Arthur.
In recent years the establishment has branched out into hard cider, and the team relishes stretching their creative muscles brainstorming monikers for the unique flavors. An ardent baseball fan, Ballard named the line Curve Ball. In keeping with the theme, variations include Sweet Spot (cherry vanilla), Grand Slam, and Double Play (rosé).
Everyone’s taste is different, but Ballard encourages customers to expand their palates and try something new, noting that the tasting room is an ideal spot to try flights without committing to an entire bottle. “I truly believe our wines are great food wines, very fruit forward. The acidity is higher, especially in our reds.”
Unique events such as a junk food and wine pairing take place every March, tantalizing customers with combos such as Blush wine and Hot Tamales or the semi-sweet blush Kira with Cool Ranch Doritos. Check the website for upcoming events and treat yourself to something new.
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