Brian Dean shared a couple of personal stories recently that likely were harbingers of things to come with his wife, Michelle.
“We were at a Napa Valley dinner, and I poured her a glass of wine, and she was swirling the glass and said, ‘I love you,’ ” Brian said. “I asked if she was talking to me or the wine. She said she was talking to the wine, so I knew I had to get on board.”
He did get on board. He gave Michelle a winemaking kit for Christmas.
“It was by far her favorite gift,” Brian said.
Last year, Michelle found herself facing a career move. Her background was in hospitality and restaurants, and her passion was making wine. She put them together, and the result was Waters Edge Winery & Bistro in downtown Broken Arrow.
“My dream was to retire, move to Napa and make wine,” Michelle said. “I’m just getting a little earlier start here in Oklahoma.”
Waters Edge is a franchise operation based in California. There are only 16 in the country, including one in Oklahoma City. The relationship allows Michelle to source quality must — a mix of crushed grapes, juice, skins, pulp, seeds and sometimes stems — from all over the world.
She makes some 35 different wines in the Waters Edge facility, located behind the dining room. All are available by the glass, including flights, and by the bottle. Bottles also may be purchased to take home.
The wines include a South African pinotage, New Zealand sauvignon blanc, Napa Valley merlot, Chilean pinot noir and Italian sangiovese, just to name a few.
“I can make that many wines because I will make, say, 50 cases of a wine instead of hundreds,” Michelle said.
Wines we tried were approachable and moderately priced. A flight of three sangrias — one with Riesling and green apples, one with pinot noir and blueberries and one with shiraz and raspberry dragon fruit — were particularly refreshing on a hot afternoon.
Michelle, a native of upstate New York, has worked in the restaurant business in Toronto, Boston, New York and Dallas. She said she came to the Tulsa area 16 years ago to open Mimi’s Café.
The menu at Waters Edge includes a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, panini, soups, salads and flatbreads.
“Some items are things I loved from the places I worked, but all of the menu is meant to complement the wines,” Michelle said.
We dined there on a whim some time ago, and we recently met a daughter and one of her co-workers for lunch.
We shared a baked brie appetizer ($11). It came out bubbling in a small but cute cast-iron dish. It was topped with a dollop of Major Grey’s mango chutney and served with toasted sourdough bread and sliced Granny Smith apples.
We ordered two of the flatbreads — a Margherita ($9) and prosciutto, fig and goat cheese ($11) — and both were quite good.
The Margherita was topped with fire-roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Romano cheese and fresh basil. We asked for an add-on of artichoke hearts, which took it to another level.
The prosciutto, fig and goat cheese flatbread also had honey and fresh arugula with a sweet balsamic glaze.
A roast beef and horseradish panini ($12) had a thick layer of sliced roast beef to go with cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes, red onions, chipotle mayo and horseradish, which gave the sandwich a definite zing.
A turkey and brie sandwich ($10) was a mix of oven-roasted turkey, melted brie cheese, sliced green apples and mango chutney on ciabatta bread. It was a flavorful combination, but I thought it could have used more chutney or another condiment because it got a bit dry.
Waters Edge offers a $22 prime rib dinner Friday nights, something to keep in mind.
In addition to wines, Waters Edge has a couple of craft beers from Broken Arrow Brewing Co. It also has a wine club featuring complimentary tastings, discounts, special events and other perks.
The dining room is a mix of brick and wood. Decorations include chandeliers and attractive wall hangings. Michelle said a friend and occasional server, Kathy Rogers, helped with the decorating. A television behind the bar is tuned to “Wine TV” all day.
“We may want to show some ballgames this fall,” Brian said.
For more details about the wine club, go to wewba.com.