Owner and chief winemaker Jim Shaw can now laugh about his mom busting him for brewing mulberry wine at age 13. “I was bootlegging wine as a kid,” he says. These days, he runs the vineyard he and his wife, Sharon, opened in 2003 about 20 miles south of Omaha. Soaring Wings—inspired by Jim’s career as a military and commercial air pilot—encompasses 30 acres of grapevines that slope from the tasting room and flank a hillside gazebo.
Jim reconnects with his other passion—music—by bringing in bands Friday nights for seasonal outdoor concerts and acoustic music Sundays year-round. Those are ideal times to sample Soaring Wing’s nearly 20 wines. Their most popular white wine, a semisweet Winter White with a slight pineapple taste, uses LaCrosse grapes and is comparable to a Riesling. The most popular red, Dragon’s Red, features a full berry taste from cold-hardy Frontenac grapes and has won awards.
All their wines feature a Nebraska grape. Tastes range from dry to sweet, but the region is best-known for semisweet whites. We like the Traminette, with its applelike crisp flavor that seems lighter and slightly sweeter than a Chardonnay. We also love the rich fragrance of Red Phoenix, a semidry red with a nice cherry finish and a balanced, satisfying taste. The biggest splurge, Cap’N Jim’s AirPort One, has a sweet, rich, hint-of-cherry finish for a punchy alternative to dessert.
Last year, Soaring Wings began brewing beer, with eight selections that include ales and lagers, a pilsner and stout. Try the White Stripe Wit, a summery Belgian style with hints of orange peel and coriander that's best served cold. For something sturdier, try the Blackbird stout, served coffee dark with a good lingering taste. Beer tastings are $6 for five samples, $6 for a refillable growler; wine is $6 for a tasting; $5 for a glass. Bread, crackers, cheese and sausage also are available. Check for cover charges during concerts and festivals.