If Oklahoma City conjures up images of stockyards, rodeos and pickup trucks blaring country music, well\u2026you\u2019re not wrong. But it\u2019s also high time you plan a visit and get to know this spirited city and its evolving wine scene.\r\n\r\nLong a regional hub for arts and culture, Oklahoma City\u2019s culinary scene has grown consistently in the past decade. There are plenty of new places to drink and dine across its many growing districts. The city offers a variety of innovative, affordable options where wine takes center stage.\r\n\r\n\u201cAfter we got the [NBA\u2019s] Oklahoma City Thunder [in 2008], I think that was a real turning point,\u201d says LaVeryl Lower, who co-owns the nearly 31-year-old Metro Wine Bar & Bistro with her husband Chris. \u201cAnd now, a few weeks ago, there were six restaurants that opened in one week that were all independently, locally owned.\u201d\r\n\r\nA growth in tourism and an influx of jobs from companies like Dell, General Electric and Amazon have helped propel its food and drink scene through trying times. Even through the recession, says Lower, as larger markets slowed down their wine purchases, her bar and others in the area could still buy.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe developed relationships with a lot of wineries that might not have thought Oklahoma would be a good market, who realized we were a really good market,\u201d says Lower. \u201cI think wine lists across the city reflect that.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cOur most important goal is to provide knowledge and education to customers who want that kind of interaction, but without being rigid or forceful about what the customer is supposed to like.\u201d \u2014Ashley Skinnell, wine manager, Freeman's Liquor Mart\r\n\r\nThat can be seen clearly at The Pritchard, which opened in October 2016. Shelby Sieg, the executive chef, also curates the wine list. She left the Oklahoma City area for a few years to hone her skills as a pastry chef on the East Coast. Though she didn\u2019t think she\u2019d return to the area, the city\u2019s food and drink scene convinced her to reconsider.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn the time that I've been [back] here, it's really, really cool to see some chefs who have lived in other larger markets come back and bring their knowledge back, or up-and-coming chefs that decided to go out on their own and really take a risk,\u201d says Sieg. \u201cThe amount of like chef-driven concepts around the city has just exploded.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe Pritchard, a dining staple, has helped to propel the concept of seasonal small plates throughout the city. People were so hesitant at first that Sieg says they had to add larger entr\u00e9es to the menu. But as dining culture has evolved, a more laid-back style is catching on.\r\n\r\n\u201cI don't necessarily know if The Pritchard was on the forefront of it, but I think we contributed to that, and I'm really excited about the way that the direction the city is going right now,\u201d says Sieg. \u201cI think people should be visiting us more.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nOklahoma City\u2019s best wine bars\r\nThe Pritchard\r\nNestled in the Plaza District, The Pritchard specializes in boutique wines and small plates. Expect dishes that reference Sieg\u2019s training as a pastry chef. Sweet and salty combinations like burrata and peaches with basil and crispy chicken skin are served alongside charcuterie and cheeses adorned with everything from fig caramel to elderflower rhubarb jam.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re just coming up on our three-year anniversary [in October],\u201d says Sieg. When The Pritchard opened, \u201cthere really wasn't another small-plates concept in Oklahoma City,\u201d she says. \u201cWe kind of had just come on the brink of that kind of trend hitting.\u201d\r\n\r\nSieg\u2019s dishes pair wonderfully with an extensive wine list. Choose from around 60 bottles, 25 offered by the glass. Stop in during the afternoon or late-night happy hour for $6 glasses of wine, among other specials. Twenty Twosday offers $22 bottles of wine, and during weekend brunch, get a taste of Sieg\u2019s doughnuts served with salted caramel ganache.\r\n\r\n\r\nBar Arbolada\r\nBright, open and airy, with plants that vine down floor-to-ceiling windows, Bar Arbolada has quickly become an Arts District staple since it was opened in 2018 by Riley Marshall and Dustin Lancaster.\r\n\r\nThe majority of this bar\u2019s wines, featuring past offerings like D\u2019Aupilhac Lou Maset Rouge from the Languedoc to Oregon\u2019s Big Fire Pinot Gris, are available by the glass. There\u2019s also a cocktail menu that features original drinks cheekily named for celebrities like the Carroty Underwood (vodka, purple carrot, lemon, Averna, ginger). Be sure to fill up on bar snacks like corn fritters and shishito peppers while you\u2019re here.\r\nAnatomy Wine Club\r\nAnatomy Wine Club does a little bit of everything. In addition to its monthly wine club, Anatomy\u2019s welcoming, Instagram-friendly bar has nearly 30 wines available that rotate seasonally, more than half served by the glass. Tasting portions are also offered, as are half-bottles of wine served in beakers, along with bottles and glasses that can be served by porr\u00f3n. There\u2019s also a bottle shop open nightly until 10 pm. Expect bottles like Omero Cellars Gamay Noir and Camino Roca Altxerri Txakoli. Keep an eye on Anatomy\u2019s Instagram to learn about special events, Sunday trivia and drinks deals.\r\n\r\n\r\nRestaurants with excellent wine lists\r\nThe Jones Assembly\r\nIf you enjoy live music as much as you do wine or delicious comfort food, stop by The Jones Assembly. It opened in summer 2017 and remains somewhat of a unicorn within the city. It has a full-service bar and restaurant downstairs, the T Room cocktail bar upstairs, as well as space for 1,600 people for concerts.\r\n\r\nYou\u2019ll find an extensive wine list by the bottle and glass, craft cocktails and an array of dishes like scallops over cauliflower pur\u00e9e and wood-fired pizzas. Open every day but Monday, it serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, lunch and dinner. A limited yet enticing menu is offered on concert nights like Frito duck chili pie. Pair the food with one of the nearly 20 by-the-glass wines, from California Pinot Noir to Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc.\r\n\r\n\r\nCheever\u2019s Cafe\r\nNamed for a prominent Oklahoma City family that ran a successful flower business in the early 1900s, Cheever\u2019s Cafe is proud of its heritage. Located in the city\u2019s Uptown 23rd District, the eye-catching restaurant features an Art Deco facade made from bricks of limestone.\r\n\r\nThough its walls are still emblazoned with advertisements for \u201cFLOWERS,\u201d these days you\u2019ll find desserts and wine bottles in glass coolers instead of bouquets. Alongside dishes like grilled shrimp casarecce with charred broccolini and pickled Fresno chilis or a short rib melt, enjoy a glass of everything from Raptor Ridge Pinot Gris to Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Metro Wine Bar & Bistro\r\nOpened nearly 31 years ago along Oklahoma City\u2019s Western Avenue, The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro was one of the first of its kind in the city. Inside, you\u2019ll find the cozy atmosphere of a long-standing neighborhood bar. LaVeryl Lower has managed the wine list since she and her husband opened in 1988. Since then, she\u2019s taken pride in the wine list, which features around 325 bottles, served alongside classic, hearty dishes like filet mignon and risotto.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have one by the glass right now that I really like called Chateau de Pelican,\u201d says Lower \u201cIt's a Savagnin from Jura.\u201d She adds that there are about 23 by-the-glass options available. \u201cI like to keep my wine by-the-glass list really fresh and have really unique wines that people may not try otherwise.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nStock up at these wine shops\r\nVoters approved a resolution in 2016 that allows grocery stores and warehouse clubs to carry wine. Sieg and Lower both implore wine lovers to support local shops that have been in the area for decades and now face competition from megacorporations.\r\nFreeman\u2019s Liquor Mart\r\nThough it might look like a side-of-the-road liquor store from the outside, you\u2019ll find an impressive array of Old World wines like those from Barolo and C\u00f4te-R\u00f4tie at Freeman's Liquor Mart. There\u2019s also a great selection of U.S. wines, from Day Wines Chenin Blanc (Ribbon Ridge) to Jonata El Alma de Jonata from California. Opened in 1959, the shop is well regarded by its regulars.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe try to have a little something for everyone,\u201d says Ashley Skinnell, Freeman\u2019s wine manager. \u201cOur most important goal is to provide knowledge and education to customers who want that kind of interaction, but without being rigid or forceful about what the customer is supposed to like.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nEdmond Wine Shop\r\nWhen he opened Edmond Wine Shop in 1973, Vance Gregory designed the store so wine would be the focal point. Since then, he\u2019s fine-tuned the selection of more than 3,000 wines, including 1,600 domestic offerings and over half under $20.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are fortunate to have a loyal clientele that we have fostered over the past 45 years,\u201d says Gregory. \u201cI started my store in November of 1973 believing in the future of fine wines [in Oklahoma] and have not been disappointed.\u201d\r\n\r\nSearch through the shop\u2019s selection of Old and New World wines and an equally impressive collection of craft beer, specialty spirits and liqueurs. Budget plenty of time, you never know what gems you might find.\r\n\r\n\r\nWineries to visit\r\nClauren Ridge Winery\r\nA wine-centric trip to Oklahoma City isn\u2019t complete without a visit to at least one of the local wineries. Clauren Ridge, located just north of the city in the suburb of Edmond, opened in 2012 and operates its own vineyard that powers its Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage. Stop by to taste through the lineup and tour the grounds. Also keep an eye out for special dinners, with themes like Titanic and End of Prohibition. Each are held in Clauren Ridge\u2019s wine cave and include a private barrel tasting.\r\nFarfalla Wines\r\nFarfalla Wines celebrates its origins in its tagline: \u201cOklahoma Wines with California Roots.\u201d Winemaker and co-owner Cathy Wright attended the executive winemakers program at University of California, Davis, before she returned to Oklahoma to open a winery with her husband Ray in downtown Yukon in 2010.\r\n\r\nFarfalla imports grapes from California to make everything from dry Cabernet Sauvignon to her popular line of semi-sweet flavored wines like Peach Chardonnay and a Strawberry Riesling. Farfalla keeps the winery experience as relaxing and low-key as possible. Enjoy a weekend afternoon in the tasting room and tour the scenic grounds, or sit poolside and enjoy a glass during warmer months.\r\n\r\n\r\nOut and about in Oklahoma City\r\nIf you\u2019re in Oklahoma City to eat and drink, start in the Plaza District. Check out Oak & Ore for craft beer and a bite, Empire Slice House for pizza and cocktails, or The Press for chicken-fried ribeye. Room for dessert? Stop by Roxy\u2019s Ice Cream Social for a seasonal flavors and Pie Junkie for a fruity treat. While in the area, visit the historic Lyric Theater for a live performance.\r\n\r\nOnce you have your fill of wine and beer, head to the Paseo Arts District just north of downtown. Start off with a cocktail at Frida Southwest and then tour the more than 20 artist studios and galleries, especially on the first Friday of the month. Then check out Holey Rollers for a donut and coffee, OSO for tacos and tiki drinks.\r\n\r\nOther neighborhoods to check out include Midtown, where you\u2019ll find a variety of shops, pubs and great restaurants like the ultra-buzzy Nonesuch and area favorite Barrios Fine Mexican Dishes. Visit Bleu Garten, which hosts local food trucks, entertainment and has multiple bars. Then, stop by Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge to roll a few frames and hang out in the upstairs beer garden. At the center of the city\u2019s recent revitalization, Midtown connects to historic neighborhoods worth exploration like Automobile Alley and Bricktown.\r\n\r\nFinally, don\u2019t miss Myriad Botanical Gardens, host of the much-anticipated Pumpkinville fall carnival each October, and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge in nearby Yukon, where there\u2019s ample opportunity for bird-watching, hiking and kayaking. Adventurers can seek an impressive 80 miles of trails in and around OKC that provide a great way to take in the natural beauty that surrounds the city, including trails that hug nearby Lake Hefner.