James Arthur Vineyards Review
Address: 2001 W. Raymond Rd. Raymond,Nebraska 68428.
Phone Number: 402-783-5255
Tasting Hours: Nov 1-Mar 31: Mon-Fri 10:00-5:00, Sat 12:00-9:00, Sun 12:00-6:00; Apr 1-Oct 31: Mon-Thurs 10:00-6:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-9:00, Sun 12:00-6:00
Reviewer: Mark and Sonja
Review Date: 5/3/2014
Reviewer: Mark and Sonja
Spring was in the air as we approached the exterior of James Arthur Vineyards. A tree adorned with white flowers grew beside the path leading to the entrance with a quaint bench nestled underneath. Tulips and daffodils sprung up from the earth and a chorus of frogs filled the air with their welcome song.
North of Lincoln, Nebraska, near the quiet town of Raymond sits James Arthur Vineyards, a legend among Nebraska wineries, and one of the few names that those outside the state may recognize. Founded in 1996, the 8,000 square foot facility is done in a rural, agricultural motif. The inside of the tasting room is nice, quaint, with a small bar just inside the door, high-backed chairs around a stone hearth for the winter months, and a loft with posted rules that include, but are not limited to, When you enter the loft, you must introduce yourself to everyone else. This isnt a fancy tasting room, but its a functional one. However, a late-spring visit such as ours turns the tasting room into a superfluous feature. If you visit JAV in good weather, you want to be outside. A series of gazebo-like structures are connected by a boardwalk, each boasting its own seating and its own scenic view of the lush green hillsides upon which James Arthur Jeffers planted a few of his many acres of grapes. The ambiance is almost Tuscan, and if you acquired one of their locally-made, artisan meat and cheese baskets, the winery tabby will likely do what he can to sequester a snack as well. This is a truly charming place.
Fun Fact: JAV sells twice as much Edelweiss wine as they do all other wines combined. Yes, you read that correctly. Upon hearing this from the girl conducting our tasting, we incredulously asked several people behind the counter to confirm it, and one after another did. The figure is less surprising once youve tried the sweet nectar they are making from edelweiss grapes.
The day we were there was the first truly nice Saturday of spring, and the staff was scrambling to stay afloat. That said, they tried hard and maintained a smile in spite of the rush of visitors. Most employees are local college students, and though they werent especially knowledgeable about the winery they represented, they were eager to please and made an effort to find answers to all of our questions. Overall, we were happy with the service we received.
James Arthur has a large selection of wines including some unique offerings in addition to the standard selection of reds and white. A tasty orange mead was something we enjoyed, while the tart and citrusy sangria, which can be purchased in a bottle, was perfect for a hot day (we took one home). The Bliss is a wine infused with chocolate that, for once, gets that odd idea right, and the Tropasti (mirror: its-a-port), Late Harvest Seyval, and Luminous apple wine complete the dessert offerings. One more thing that impressed us: proceeds from the 2009 Hope red and the 2013 Voluptuous white support the American Cancer Society.
If you are looking for something more than wine tasting, JAV also hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Beginning in May and continuing into November, events include a summer concert series, outdoor movies, murder mystery parties, and even a Haunted Hike Through the Vineyard. They also host an annual Renaissance Festival complete with medieval costumes, gigantic turkey leg drumsticks, and specialty meads made just for the occasion.
All of this combines to make for a great wine experience. We have always known that James Arthur Vineyards is one of the most popular wineries in the state of Nebraska. Now we know why. Check out their calendar of events, pick a nice day, and plan to spend the afternoon. We think youll enjoy it as much as we did.