High on the vine
Native Tulsan pairs culinary know-how and winemaking.
Michael Zinke, owner of Zinke Wines in Los Olivos, California, utilizes sustainable winemaking practices.
Rich Cox Photography
California winemaker Michael Zinke’s first memories are in Tulsa, making peanut butter cookies with his great-grandmother, Katy Huggins. The desire to be in the kitchen was a family affair. “It was never a requirement for me or my sisters to help out in the kitchen,” Zinke says. “It was simply where we wanted to be from an early age.”
Zinke is the son of Tulsa oilman Bob Zinke and Osage County rancher Debbie Zinke. “They were both very supportive of my rather drastic decision to withdraw from the University of Oklahoma and move across the country to learn to cook (at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, California) just as they were supportive of my decision to pick up my life and move to California to start a winery,” Michael Zinke says.
He says cooking school opened him up to a “seemingly endless spectrum of flavors.” While in Pasadena, he was drawn to the Santa Ynez Valley for weekend wine tastings. “Winemaking was the natural progression for me and quickly became my focus,” he says.
After graduating from culinary school, Zinke returned to Tulsa, eventually becoming assistant winemaker at Girouard Vines. In 2012, he began Zinke Wine Co. in Los Olivos, California, and its first vintage produced more than 1,000 cases. Zinke’s focus on small production allows for handcrafted wine. Most are Rhone varietals; all come from sustainable vineyards that utilize organic or certified organic processes.
“I only intervene when necessary,” Zinke says. “I feel over-thinking often pushes wine past being an artisanal product and into becoming a manufactured agricultural product.”
Zinke Wines can be purchased at a variety of retailers and restaurants in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.