Drinking from the Cup of Friendship: My Tidal School Winery Road Trip

IMG_0037It’s been a while since I’ve been on a good old-fashioned road trip. Evidence of this fact was demonstrated when I stopped at the turnpike entrance on I-44 east, pulled over on the shoulder and called Mick.

“Um, I think I missed that Park-and-Ride lot, babe. Are you SURE it’s there?”

“There” meant “on the north side of N.E. 122nd, across from the Shell truck stop, but not yet over the I-35 bridge.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s still there…” I could tell he was using his patient voice, and I deeply appreciated that as I did a U-turn, drove along the shoulder facing oncoming traffic, waved at most of the cars as I passed, and headed back to the mystery place.

“Oh, THERE it is!” I said as I suddenly spied a brand new thing I had never witnessed before.

I pulled into the parking lot while telling Mick goodbye. “Hey, there are my friends. Thanks sweetie, gotta go!”

There they were: Katie, Rose, and a Full Day waiting on us to get started. In no time flat, we were packed up and headed back to I-44, this time driving the proper direction down the on-ramp to the turnpike.


We were headed to Drumright, Oklahoma to check out the Tidal School Winery. Armed with our “Living Social” Deals printed on clean white paper, we chatted about stuff (and by “stuff” I mean girl talk…and by “girl talk” I mean, well, stuff) until we hit the Stroud exit.

I thought our trip would be 1:45 to get to Drumright. We got there in an hour flat. And we were hungry.

“Joseph’s” provided us a diner-style meal with a Lebanese flair, and was right across the street from the vineyard.

From the “Joseph’s” parking lot, I stood alongside my car looking at the old building and prepared to cross into our vineyard tour phase. My mind replayed the first thing I said when we started our trip: “I have to be honest with you guys…I really, really don’t like Oklahoma wine.”

I felt like a traitor when I said it. Disloyalty burned through my veins, but it was the truth. I’m just not sure that our vineyards are quite mature enough to match my personal wine preferences.


If I’m going to buy a bottle of wine, I want a good one. A DRY one. I usually buy Chianti, Syrah, Petit Syrah or Shivaz, Cabernets, or an occasional Merlot. And, I also like my whites dry. And, I don’t usually – ever – buy blends. And, I really can’t stand sweet wines at all. And, according to the winery owners who host booths at the farmer’s markets, “Oklahomans have a sweet-preference palate, so that’s what we sell.”

I took a deep breath. I was bracing myself for another tasting of sweet wine, extra-sweet wine, and the top-shelf sweet. We loaded into the car, drove across the street, got back out of the car, then walked the steps into the Schoolhouse and headed indoors. I think I was dragging my feet.

Interestingly, the majority of the items in their tasting inventory were…sweet! But they had three dry choices and we all got to work requesting, tasting, and deciding whether to buy or which to buy.


Wine tastings, in some ways, remind me of the home product sales industry. Friends hang out, look at what their other friend (in this case, my “friend” was Oklahoma) has to offer, talk while they are checking out the products, then decide on at least a limited number of items to purchase. Perhaps because they really like the product, but more likely because they like their friend…or in this case, home state.

That process describes me to a “T.” “Made in Oklahoma” means I’ll probably go to the party, and I’ll probably buy something. Or two somethings.


And I did. I found a frozen peach wine blender mix that I genuinely thought might be good for a backyard party this summer. I bought two bottles of wine I was “okay” with (it was like a bonus Tupperware buy – I didn’t really need them, but I hadn’t really spent much money either). We went on the tour, I fell in love with the history about the building, we checked out the grounds, talked to another group of women hanging out on the deck (beautiful deck) then left.



These two photos show a crepe paper school dress, and the photo of Odessa Cargill (donor)

and her class wearing them at the Tidal School in 1938.

On the way home we stopped at Territory Cellars to make sure stones hadn’t been left unturned. Come to find out, they had. I turned over the “bottled Muscadine grape juice” stone and got my treasure of the day. It was delicious.


As I deftly pulled into the “Park and Ride” lot at the end of our trip, I noticed something about my friends. They had the car unloaded in one minute flat. They easily said goodbye, jumped into their cars, and shouted about ideas for another trip on their way out of the parking lot.

It was at that moment I realized what wine I did like sweet: the full, sunset colored, glass of friendship. THAT, my friends, is something Oklahoma can’t sell because she already has the market cornered. And, it’s priceless. And I’ll order it again, and again, and again.


P.S. Bonus photo below…evidently these are “the original urinals installed when the school was built. I wonder if the plumber had any idea they would be a featured tourist attraction when he tested that first flush?




4 thoughts on “Drinking from the Cup of Friendship: My Tidal School Winery Road Trip”


    My name is Derick Jensen, Founder, Oklahoma Wine Culture and I am a biased observer. I am trying to showcase the winemaking abilities of Oklahoma Grape and Wine producers and I am asking chefs from all over Oklahoma, “If you are truly local, why would you serve California wine with an Oklahoma sourced meal?” We have over 60 wineries in the state and more opening on almost a monthly basis. I do not accept that people cannot find wine they like. The reason being I take people from all over the country on wine tours in Oklahoma and invariably they come back with a greater appreciation of Oklahoma wineries and Vineyards. So it is simple, I challenge you to really be local!


    Derick Jensen
    Oklahoma Wine Culture

  2. One of our fav wines girl….you need to ride with us…bunches of us ride for wind therapy and wine…..probably been to every winery in oklahome…small one in anadarko has some fab fab stuff

    1. “wind therapy” – ha! love it! Nanny Shannon Nonya… Any time after the first week in May, I would LOVE to come ride with you…name the place! Have a good one, RDK

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