As wine tasting and vineyard tours grow in popularity, the excitement has spread into South Dakota, where 18 farm wineries or vineyards grow grapes and produce wine as well as offer different wine-based events.
Many of the wineries in South Dakota are vineyards that double as a farm. Because the grapevines need a certain climate to thrive and produce, most of the wineries are located either in the Black Hills or in the southern half of the state.
One trend that makes wineries and vineyards even more localized is that many of them use South Dakota-grown products in their wine, as is true of Schade Vineyard in Volga. This vineyard currently offers a number of wines that are produced throughout the year including: Plum, Chokecherry, Rhubarb, Beet, Raspberry-Apple, Oakwood Red and Mead.
According to Victoria Wilde, who along with her husband owns and runs Wilde Prairie Winery near Brandon, they either grow all of their own products or buy them from local growers. Wilde Prairie Winery is open from noon to five on weekends or by special appointment. Wilde says their numbers are increasing each year.
“Each new event we have brings new customers to the winery,” said Wilde. “Most of our customers are local, but we have quite a few people come from Iowa and Minnesota. We also have a number of locals who like to bring visiting relatives and friends out to our farm.”
Wineries are noted for organizing events to draw in new business and raise awareness. One event that includes multiple South Dakota wineries is the Great Dakota Wine Fest. This event takes place at Valiant Vineyards in Vermillion, the first winery established in South Dakota under the South Dakota Farm Winery act of 1996. The Great Dakota Wine Fest features activities like grape stomping, live music, South Dakota Made product vendors, and wine sampling from South Dakota wineries.
Prairie Berry Winery, located north of Hill City, is a vineyard that has received national acclaim for its wine. Prairie Berry Winery hosts numerous wine-related events as well.
The 2006 Seyval Blanc is the Prairie Berry wine that received a Best of Show award at the 2007 San Francisco International Wine Competition. With more than 1,000 wineries submitting entries from 21 different countries, and only 19 “Best Varietal” distinctions given, Prairie Berry was the only winning winery that is not located on the East or West Coast of the United States or from another country.
Prairie Berry partners with the 1880 Train to host the annual “Wine Express into the West” event. This popular event usually occurs in the fall and features a 4-course meal with Prairie Berry wine as well as Old West entertainment and a train ride from Hill City to Keystone.