Born August 1976, Audrey lived just west of Oklahoma City in the community of Yukon, Oklahoma, until 1989 when she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, to attend high school at Pulaski Academy, graduating in 1994. From there she moved to Norman, Oklahoma, to study psychology at the University of Oklahoma. During that time, she had a part-time job at the Greenhouse Nursery in Norman from 1995-97. Although she has no formal training in viticulture, Audrey has always loved plants; the nursery sparked that interest even more. In February 1998, Audrey bought 20 acres of land in Altus, Arkansas, from Al Wiederkehr. The land included 10 acres of Arkansas' first ever Chardonnay vineyard - planted in 1982 - which hadn't been pruned or harvested for quite some time. That, however, was soon to change!
That first season Audrey corralled several of her friends to live part-time in tents in order to nurture her Chardonnay vineyard back into shape. Over the course of the next year, she divided her time between working her existing vineyard, planting new grape varieties, and building a house and the vineyard's original winery. By February 1999, Audrey had become a resident of Altus and Dragonfly Ranch, named for the more than 30 varieties of dragonflies found on her new estate. During those early days, Audrey began selling her harvest to area wineries - a practice she continues to this day.
In 2000, she expanded her plantings with the purchase of an additional 30 acres of pastureland. Today, 36 of Dragonfly Ranch's 50 acres are planted with varieties that include: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cynthiana, Muller Thurgau, Schreube, Kerner, Orameinsteiner, Vignoles, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, and Petite Sirah. Audrey was bottling wine of her own by July 21, 2001 - the same year she opened Chateau aux Arc Winery (named for the original French spelling of "Ozark").
In September 2005 building was complete on her 5400sq ft tasting room with gift shop: A European-style building, accented by stacked rock columns, fit to be called by the name Chateau. A dry moat, stone walkways, and flowerbeds galore surround the impressive structure set on the edge of Dragonfly Ranch's manicured vineyards. Picnic tables scattered throughout the grounds complement the experience, beckoning visitors to soak in the atmosphere.
Audrey’s professional course has continued. In June 2010 Audrey was listed in Arkansas Business’ “ 40 under 40” edition, where she was chosen, from hundreds of nominations, as one of Arkansas’ most promising up-and-coming leaders in the state. Audrey also had legislation passed to name the Cynthiana grape, which was first discovered in Arkansas, as Arkansas’ official state grape. She was first profiled in the magazine eight years ago and now has been recognized along side of names of Arkansas’ most successful young entrepreneurs as well sits on many distinguished boards and committees throughout the state.
Chateau aux Arc, open seven days a week, welcomes visitors to stop, relax and smell the lavender before moving on down the Altus Wine Trail.
|Audrey is a member of The National Association of Professional and Executive Women (NAPEW). It is dedicated to preserving and improving equality for women in the workplace.|