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Next stop: Wine country

U.S. Air Force graphic by Josh Plueger

U.S. Air Force graphic by Josh Plueger

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- When people think of Iowa, they might not think of vineyards or wine tasting tours. Few may know that Iowa has more than 400 commercial vineyards and more than 70 wineries.

However, 11 members of Team Offutt will soon learn about the wine Iowa has to offer when they embark on the Western Iowa Wine Tour hosted by the Outdoor Recreation Office here April 2.

Senior Airman Rachael M. Niles, 55th Medical Support Squadron, said she can't wait for the trip.

"As soon as I saw the flyer, I called my friends to see if they wanted to go, and we took the last four slots," she said.

For Airman Niles, the trip will be here second wine tasting tour. In 2010, she went on a wine tour that featured stops at five wineries.

She said she enjoyed exploring and learning about the wineries of Iowa: places she never knew existed.

"I liked how (the staff) explained the wines, how wine is made, and how much hard work was involved," she said. "I enjoyed learning the history of wine and tasting it."

Airman Niles and the group sampled a few different wines at each winery and enjoyed cheese and cracker plates which were available for purchase, as well as wine for a decent price, she added.

Donald R. Parks, Outdoor Recreation program manager with the 55th Force Support Squadron, said the wine tour will be an enjoyable time for all.

"The vineyards we visit each have their own unique atmosphere and a great selection of locally produced wines," Mr. Parks said.

Anyone who has gone on a previous wine tour has been impressed with the quality of wine and the hospitality of the staff at each vineyard, he said.

So what's in store for this trip?

Visits at three vineyards between Treynor and Thurman, Iowa, with each stop offering people more and more wine sampling. Snacks will also be available for purchase.

Airman Niles said she's thrilled that Offutt's ODR office offers trips like the wine tour.
"I wouldn't know of any other place that has opportunities like this," she said.

Airman Niles said the tour is a pretty good deal for only $10.

Trip attendees will meet at the equipment rental building off Butler Boulevard and depart at approximately 11 a.m., and return at about 5 p.m.

For more information about the wine tour, to be added to the waiting list, or for information about future ODR events, call 294-2108.