Barry Switzer enters winery business


OU football: Switzer enters winery business
Berry Tramel’s Blog
The Oklahoman
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Barry Switzer

Barry Switzer always has called himself a bootlegger’s boy. Even named his book that. Frank Switzer apparently was in the illegal alcohol business. Now his son has joined the legal alcohol business.

Switzer has established Switzer Family Vineyards, a line of wine originating in the Napa Valley and being distributed by National Republic.

Switzer held a wine-tasting event Wednesday evening at Benvenuti’s in Norman to kick off his wine business.

Switzer said his old friend, Patsy Benso, convinced him 20-25 years ago to give up hard liquor. “Quit drinking the hard stuff,” Benso said. Drink red wine, said Benso, who operated Othello’s in Norman and told Switzer that drinking wine allowed Italians to live long lives. “All that other hard stuff is bad for your liver, your kidney.”

Then Switzer said he became educated on wine while coaching the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones considered himself a wine connoisseur; the night before games, Switzer and Larry Lacewell would dine with Jones over elaborate dinners. “So I learned what good wine was,” Switzer said. “Today, when I drink a good wine, I know it’s a good wine. When I buy a $50-$60 bottle, I know it’s better than the $20-$30 bottle.”

Switzer went into business with Andrew Hoxsey, one of the leading winemakers in California’s Napa Valley. Jeff Coyle — the son of two-time OU all-Big Eight end Ross Coyle (1957-58) — now is vice president of Republic National Distributing Co. and helped broker the deal.

“We’re going to work about 500 cases a year,” Coyle said. “We sold 112 (wholesale) in three days.” The wine is being marketed in Oklahoma and Texas. A single Iowa steakhouse ordered 56 cases. Outlets in Nebraska have inquired, too.

Coyle said the trucks delivering the wine just now are reaching Oklahoma.

On the label of every bottle of Switzer Family Vineyards is this:

“My rural home in Arkansas was a shotgun house built in 1893. You could shoot a shotgun through the front door, out the back, not hit a thing. Hallway down the middle with three rooms on each side. No electricity, no plumbing, heat from a wood stove, light from coal oil lamps. There was something special about that old house, and I think there is something special about our wine. I know, since I happen to be a bootlegger’s boy. Enjoy! Barry Switzer.”

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