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I talked to several people who were looking at it and they were wan ng to put a home here. I can step out on my porch and throw a stone and hit it. And I’m going ‘no, I don’t want anyone else living this close to me.’ That’s the reason I’m out here in the fi rst place. So I bought it and I’m thinking ‘now what am I gonna do with it?’ I came over here and looked around and thought ‘this is my winery.’ So that was the beginning.”


The next step for Mickle was submi ng an applica on with the State of Oklahoma for a license to produce and distribute wine. His applica on was approved and there was no turning back. Diamondhead Wine was born.


What makes Diamondhead Wine unique is Mickle’s insistence on using fresh, handpicked fruits and berries. His refusal to use grapes dis nguishes his brew from most other wines.


“I’ve never been a big fan of grape anything – wine or juice,” Mickle said. “I told myself that if I was going to start doing this, I was going to make something I would drink too.”


Mickle fi rst began  nkering with persimmons and blackberries, both of which could be found in abundance near his home. With help from a close friend, Rich Torres, who helped introduce him to wine-making, he quickly learned how to perfect the fermenta on process.


“I always had lots of blackberries,” he said. “And persimmon makes really good wine, but if you don’t know what you are doing, it is not a good idea.”


Added Mickle: “I began experimen ng with diff erent ways to ferment and diff erent ways to process un l I came up with something I liked. And then I found out that there were a lot of other people who like what I like. I’ve had many people come up to me and say ‘I don’t like wine’ or ‘I’m not a wine drinker. I’ve tried it and just don’t like it.’ I’ll say ‘well, you haven’t ever tried mine.’ A er they try it, ninety-nine percent of the  me they’ll buy a bo le.”


So, how is Diamondhead Wine diff erent, you ask?


“I think it’s just the fact that its one-hundred percent fruits and berries,” he explained. “A lot of your wineries that do fruit and berry wine use grape wine as a base. In my case, I don’t use grapes at all. When it says blackberry it’s one-hundred percent blackberry.”


Said Mickle: “My slogan says ‘A step above the ordinary.’ I feel like my wine is defi nitely out of the ordinary.”


Times have certainly changed for Mickle and his wine-making “hobby.” No longer does he cra wine simply to give as gi s, but he s ll keeps things simple by limi ng batches to no more than fi  y gallons and using locally-grown and handpicked fruits and berries.


While fi  y gallons may sound like a lot, his is s ll a rela vely small opera on by most standards. And he prefers it that way.


“I do fi  y gallons at a  me where most wineries do 500 to 1,000-gallon batches,” said Mickle. “That’s as big as I go. I’m afraid if I go any larger I’ll lose something.


I went from fi ve gallons to fi  een gallons. Then I went to thirty gallons and then to fi  y gallons. It seemed likes you lose a li le something the more you make. It took me a while when I went to fi  y gallons to get everything just the way I liked it.”


Mickle remembers not long ago driving to Tulsa to purchase wine bo les. He would buy a dozen or so cases and load them in the back of his car for the return trip to Pryor. He said a truck now delivers cases by the pallet.


Mickle admits resis ng change and says it was never his inten on to become a mass producer of wine. Fi y-gallon batches are plenty big enough for him. He doesn’t want to grow his business at the expense of his product. Quality isn’t something he is willing to sacrifi ce. His reluctance to let the quality of his product suff er is evident, right down to corking bo les by hand.


However, staying small can make keeping up with demand a challenge.


“I started out in the liquor stores, but couldn’t keep up with demand,” he said. “Last year we ran completely out of wine.”


Diamondhead Wine’s commitment to quality over quan ty caught the a en on of judges at the Finger Lakes Interna onal Wine Compe  on in New York. Mickle’s Blueberry Magic was awarded a gold medal and his Mulberry Seduc on took a bronze.


“We only entered two bo les and they both took medals,” he said. “The lady told me that they have wineries from all over the >>


December 2015 - 5


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