We were fortunate to have timed a visit to Soaring Wings Vineyard just days after they started producing beer for on-site sale and consumption. We drove down to the vineyard, which is is housed in an unmistakable A-Frame style building a couple of miles south of Springfield, Nebraska. (I think that the owner might have been inspired by the Air Force Academy Chapel, but its just a guess). This is just a quick twenty minute jaunt west on I-80 out of Omaha with a turn to the south on highway 50. We were fortunate in that Soaring Wings produces some excellent beer that is well worth the trip.
Soaring Wings Vineyard is set up with a nice tasting room, complete with a fireplace and some tables. A room suitable for special occasions is adjacent to the tasting room. There is a long veranda along the front of the building and an outdoor covered patio on the north end with even more seating. The design (and marketing) theme of the place is a very unique combination of aeronautics and wine — two things I never really put together before. Although there was nobody scheduled to play the day we visited, there is a simple bandshell facing the main building. Surrounding the building were ripe rows of grapevines. The red wine that one of our party tried was judged to be very good, perhaps some of the best Midwestern red wine that she had tried.
However, the main purpose of our trip was to try the beer. And, if anybody is hoping to skip the trip and find the beer at your local watering hole or grocery store, then you need to understand that at this point there are no plans to market the beer elsewhere. If you want to try any beer you either need to show up and buy some for on-site consumption or procure your own growlers. I was told that they have some containers on order in case you failed to bring your own.
When we were there, a total of four different beers were available with at least two more on the way. We tried all of them and they were uniformly very drinkable and unique.
The Wingman German Wheat fits its name. The beer was a very solid wheat ale, but without the strong vanilla or banana flavors of some German wheat beers.
The Bombardier Brown Ale is described in the menu as a “nut brown rye ale” with coffee/espresso/chocolate overtones with a distinctive crisp rye flavor.” This is a pretty accurate description of this beer, but I might add this: Wow. This beer is a tour de force. The chocolate overtones were quite evident but were pleasant and not cloying. The beer managed to avoid a lot of the problems that dark craft beers can have, including too much molasses taste and not enough bitterness. The balance between sweetness and bitterness on the one hand and flavor, and clean crispness was perfect. The beer offered some unique taste characteristics without coming across as overpowering, another common trait of craft beers. When you consider that this is one of the first batches of beer sold by Soaring Wings this is a great achievement for their new brewmaster, John Rollag.
When you are out and about this part of Nebraska, keep an eye out for Lady Gaga. Rumor has it that her boyfriend hails from Springfield. In fact, her new music video Yoü And I was shot in a cornfield and barn exactly 2.4 miles north of the vineyard.
Soaring Wings Vineyard
17111 So 138th St
April – October:
Wed, Thur, Sat: 12-6
November – March