Known for top-tier steakhouses, a world-class zoo and one of the best contemporary music scenes in the Midwest, Omaha\u2019s pulse is one of charm and energy. The River City, home to nearly 500,000 people, was a major railway and steamboat hub in the 19th century. Over the past decade, Omaha has invested time, energy and money to revitalize historic neighborhoods like Benson, Blackstone and the Capitol District. This has given way to exciting new restaurants and bars that place a focus on wine.\r\n\r\n\u201cOmaha is a great dining town,\u201d says Corey Keith, co-owner of Corkscrew Wine & Cheese. \u201cThe struggle is that the lack of size doesn\u2019t put it on the national radar too often.\u201d\r\n\r\nKeith says that Omaha has a close-knit beverage community with a high level of participation in the Court of Master Sommeliers and Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) programs among locals.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s hard to be everything to everybody, so if we can develop those niches, I think that makes us stronger,\u201d he says. \u201cRight now, there\u2019s a strong contingent of young people who are doing interesting things.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOne of those people is Heather Smith, general manager of The Grey Plume and certified sommelier. \u201cPeople are getting more into how food and wine can go together,\u201d says Smith, an Omaha native. \u201cThey\u2019re a lot more open and are getting past these preconceived notions of what they think wine should be, to experience new things. It\u2019s really beautiful.\u201d\r\n\r\nSo whether you seek an intimate dining experience or to sip ros\u00e9 at a countryside winery, here are a few of the can\u2019t-miss wine experiences in Omaha, Nebraska.\r\nWhere to Relax, Try & Buy Wine in Omaha\r\n\r\nCorkscrew Wine & Cheese\r\nOmaha has a fantastic selection of wine bars that also double as retail shops. This lends a relaxed, try-before-you-buy atmosphere to much of the city\u2019s wine scene. Keith opened the first location of Corkscrew Wine & Cheese with his sister in the Rockbrook neighborhood in 2006. He opened a second location with his wife, Jessica, in Blackstone in 2014.\r\n\r\n\u201cBoth of our locations have 30 wines available by the glass, and that gives us a lot of opportunity to sample and push people to expand their palates at the bar if they choose to, and to then grow their preferences in wine over time,\u201d says Keith. \u201cIt\u2019s a place where people are comfortable and socialize and gather in a safe, fun environment that\u2019s not necessarily a bar or coffee house.\u201d\r\n\r\nEach location stocks about 700 bottles, with a primary focus on New World wines. Paso Robles labels have become popular at Corkscrew, as are ros\u00e9s and red blends. Don\u2019t miss out on happy hour, when a glass of the bar\u2019s kegged wines is $5, while at the Blackstone location, you can enjoy $4 bruschetta.\r\nLa Buvette Wine Bar & Grocery\r\nLocated in Omaha\u2019s Old Market, a funky neighborhood full of thrift stores, breweries and bookshops, it\u2019s hard to miss La Buvette. Situated on the corner of a brick-paved street, in the summer months, the wine bar and shop is lush with vines.\r\n\r\nInside, the vibe is relaxed and inviting. La Buvette has been around since 1991 and features a French-focused bar and restaurant alongside a market filled with cheese and fresh-baked breads. Its wine list is updated often and features offerings from Burgundy, California and beyond. Sip your wine alongside charcuterie, or go all-in with duck rillettes. Just don\u2019t forget to grab a bottle to go.\r\n\r\n\r\nLe Bouillon & Howard Street Wine Merchant\r\nLe Bouillon and the adjacent Howard Street Wine Merchant are owned by James Beard Award-nominated chef/restaurateur Paul Kulik. He opened Le Bouillon in 2014, and launched Howard Street in 2017. The selection at the two establishments overlaps, with a focus on Old World wines.\r\n\r\nLe Bouillon features an oyster bar and all the French comfort food your heart desires. From cassoulet to a French onion soup made with foie gras, dishes are crafted with particular attention to local ingredients. A daily happy hour offers $5 glasses from an extensive wine list, $1.25 oysters and plenty of other bites.\r\n\r\nYou don\u2019t need to dine at Le Bouillon to browse the selections at Howard Street Wine Merchant. However, Omahans who can\u2019t be bothered leave the couch can still have a bottle of Domaine Duffour C\u00f4tes de Gascogne delivered to their door, thanks to the shop\u2019s free delivery program.\r\n\r\n\r\nRestaurants with Great Wine Lists\r\nThe Grey Plume\r\nLauded as the greenest restaurant in America when it opened in 2010, The Grey Plume extends the same sustainable philosophy to every aspect of its operation.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe feature wines from smaller producers that are kind of true to the land, that mimic our philosophies as far as being green,\u201d says Smith. The single-page wine list is organized by categories like \u201cjuicy,\u201d \u201cdapper,\u201d \u201crugged\u201d and \u201cstately.\u201d Options range from $40 to $500.\r\n\r\n\u201c[Nebraska's wines] remind me of some Italian wines that have high acidity and still some tannin structure. So that\u2019s kind of fun.\u201d \u2014Heather Smith, general manager, The Grey Plume\r\n\r\n\u201cWe do [four, six and eight course] tasting menus with wine pairings nightly,\u201d says Smith.\r\n\r\nThere are only 15 tables in the restaurant, with additional bar seating. Smith takes advantage of the intimacy to inspire interest in the ever-evolving wine list. She tends to forego more popular grapes like Pinot Grigio and Merlot in favor of Tempranillo or, her current favorite, Patton Valley Ros\u00e9 P\u00e9tillant Naturel. Wines are paired with modern dishes like wagyu beef, prepared by James Beard-nominated owner/chef Clayton Chapman.\r\n\r\nThere are even a couple of Nebraska wines from Niobrara Valley Vineyards on rotation. \u201cThey remind me of some Italian wines that have high acidity and still some tannin structure,\u201d says Smith. \u201cSo that\u2019s kind of fun.\u201d\r\nDante\r\nWhether you crave a three-course dinner that features housemade pasta and a bottle of wine, or just a glass of Montepulciano and Neapolitan pie in West Omaha, Dante has you covered. The restaurant focuses on using produce sourced from Nebraska and the Midwest to craft rustic Italian cuisine, reflected in an extensive wine list dedicated exclusively to Italian producers.\r\n\r\nThis West Omaha outpost specializes in quality food served in a welcoming environment, and you\u2019ll find dozens of labels to choose from, like Il Censo\u2019s Praruar, a Sicilian white wine made from the Catarratto grape, and Inama\u2019s Soave Classico from Veneto.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Boiler Room\r\nGaining its name from a former life as an actual boiler room, much of the building\u2019s historic personality has been preserved in this multi-level bar and restaurant.\r\n\r\nFor the third consecutive year, Chef Tim Nicholson was a James Beard Award semifinalist, nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2017 and 2018, and Best Chef: Midwest in 2019.\r\n\r\nThe menu changes often but dishes have included slow-roasted porchetta (green tomato chutney, creamy spaetzle, roasted squash and apples, shishito peppers) and seared Rhode Island scallops (pommes pur\u00e9e, marinated lentils, roasted turnips, sweet soy sauce, fried okra). They\u2019re paired with wines that, according to the restaurant\u2019s website, have a \u201cstrict focus on lively aromatics, expressive minerality and effusive pair-ability.\u201d\r\n\r\nThere are more than 500 labels from which to choose. Try a celebratory Jacquesson Cuv\u00e9e 737 Extra Brut Champagne or a cozy Failla Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhere to Experience Wine From Beginning to End\r\nCellar 426 Winery\r\nFirst opened in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Richard and Amy Hilske, Cellar 426 is situated on a large lot with a view about 15 miles outside of Omaha. It\u2019s the perfect space for live music, harvest parties, wine classes and tastings that the couple hosts throughout the year.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe make a wide variety of wines, from dry reds and whites to fairly sweet reds and whites, and things in-between as well,\u201d says Richard. He says that two of their most popular are a sweeter option called Rocky\u2019s Red, named for the vineyard\u2019s first dog, and the off-dry Uplifting Traminette.\r\n\r\nRichard notes that Nebraska vineyards are known for the Edelweiss grape, which the Hilskes showcase in their Blue Jay Edelweiss bottling. Richard describes the variety as having \u201cdelicate flavors of green apple, honey, and pear.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cThe Nebraska wine industry is still in its infancy,\u201d he says. \u201cThe first winery is only about 30 years old and [more have] really taken off in the last five to eight years. I think the quality has really ramped up and we\u2019re having a lot of good, diverse wines across the board.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nSoaring Wings Vineyard & Brewing\r\nThough Omaha\u2019s wine scene is relatively young, there are enough vineyards to warrant the creation of the Southeast Nebraska Winery Trail. This includes Soaring Wings Vineyard, in operation since the early 2000s. It\u2019s open year-round for tastings, and often hosts live music and dinners.\r\n\r\nIn 2011, co-owner/vintner Jim Shaw also began to brew beer. Now, Soaring Wings offers more than 20 wines that run the gamut of sweet to dry, including its own take on an Edelweiss. Shaw also produces wine using estate-grown Syrah, and maintains his winery is the only one in Nebraska successfully growing and making wine with the grape. There are also nine beers available that include stouts, a Pilsner and an English ale.\r\n\r\n\r\nNeighborhoods to Explore\r\nThe Old Market is one of the city\u2019s most venerable neighborhoods. Grab a drink at The Berry and Rye, where the menu includes a section devoted to seasonal sparkling wine cocktails. Check out work form local and international artists at Old Market Artists Gallery and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and channel your inner bookworm at Jackson Street Booksellers. Don\u2019t miss a visit to classic Nebraska steakhouse Johnny\u2019s Caf\u00e9, a local institution since 1922, or Omaha Prime. Both have plenty of wine to pair with your porterhouse.\r\n\r\nJust on the edge of Old Market is The Durham Museum, which focuses on regional history and is situated in Omaha\u2019s historic Union Station. Head north to visit the Joslyn Art Museum, where it\u2019s easy to lose track of time as you wander its collection of fine art. Music fans should also keep tabs on who\u2019s playing Slowdown, one of the city\u2019s most beloved music venues.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s easy to spend a weekend eating and drinking your way through one of Omaha\u2019s most popular neighborhoods, the Blackstone District. Grab coffee at Archetype Coffee and hit up Bob\u2019s Donuts, where the apple fritters are no joke. Spend the day drinking and snacking on The Red Lion Lounge patio, and end with a salted caramel waffle cone at Coneflower Creamery.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you\u2019d like to spend an afternoon reconnecting with nature, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is one of the country\u2019s best. The nearby Lauritzen Gardens botanical center boasts an array of vibrant flora. The city also boasts 85 miles of paved trails that weave around the city, which makes it easy to explore by foot or bicycle.