Last Sunday a few friends and I ventured out to Mahoney State Park for the first annual Toast Nebraska wine festival. While we never quite figured out what it meant to be a "wine thief", we did have a blast sampling wines from 17 different Nebraskan wineries.
Here's our wine tasting dream team. From left to right - Mike, Mandy, Nick and Sarah. What's wonderful about going as a group to an event like this is that every one has such varying tastes. You could bet Nick and Mandy were going to try the dryer and sweet reds, while Sarah and I stuck to the dryer reds and whites. Mike was all over the place and I must admit, it's pretty nice to have a wildcard among the bunch.
Like I mentioned before, there were 17 Nebraska wineries in attendance at this two-day event ---
- 17 Ranch Winery Lewellen, NE
- Big Cottonwood Vineyards & Winery Tekamah, NE
- Cellar 426 Wines & Vines Ashland, NE
- Deer Springs Winery Lincoln, NE
- Feather River Vineyards North Platte, NE
- Glacial Till Vineyard & Winery Ashland, NE
- James Arthur Vineyards Raymond, NE
- Mac's Creek Winery & Vineyards Lexington, NE
- Miletta Vista Winery St. Paul, NE
- Prairie Creek Vineyards Central City, NE
- Rockin' Rooster Winery Scotia, NE
- Shilling Bridge Winery Pawnee City, NE
- Silver Hills Vineyards & Winery Tekamah, NE
- Soaring Wings Vineyard Springfield, NE
- Superior Estate Winery Superior, NE
- Whisky Run Creek Vineyard & Winery Brownville, NE
- Wunderrosa Winery Roca, NE
Everyone at the event, from the volunteers to the folks manning the booths, were incredibly nice and professional. Being Nebraskan wines, everything was a little on the sweeter side, which is what we've all come to expect after our few wine tasting experiences in Iowa. Because they are so sweet, an event like this works perfectly because you don't have to commit to a full glass or a full bottle. Instead, you get to sample a little bit of everything and compare each wineries more common blends - Brianna, Edelweiss, Seyval, La Crosse, Vignoles and Marquette - to each other. There were also the wildcard wineries too. Shilling Bridge Winery offered a sample of their wine-a-rita while Rockin' Rooster Winery was just a grab bag of random tastes ranging from spiced pumpkin to rhubard to jalapeno raisin.
By the end of the day, Sarah's "program" was filled with tasting notes while I opted to jot down the names of the wines I really enjoyed on the individual pamphlets that were being handed out at most of the booths. We were pretty famished by the end of our tour. And while we also sampled some delicious olive oils from Oliverde (now open at Village Point), we were in need of something with a little more sustenance. We grabbed a bottle of favorite wines of the day and went in search of food.
We had joked on the way out to Mahoney that this event was just going to be cheap wine and hotdogs, so we had a good chuckle when it turned out we were partly right once we spotted Chicago Dawg. We were also pleasantly surprised to see Benson's newest resident Fusion BBQ in attendance as well.
I can't wait to return to Toast Nebraska next year. Being scheduled in early May, the weather is perfect and the event offers a really wonderful opportunity to get out of the house for the afternoon and support some great local businesses. Cheers!