By Kara Sweet
Happy New Year! Happy 2016!
Forbes estimates that over forty percent of the population makes New Year’s resolutions. However, it is also says that only around eight percent actually achieve these goals. My New Year’s resolution is to make easier resolutions! So instead of the whole losing weight, exercising more type of objective, I decided to make a resolution that is easy to fulfill. I am going to be one of the eight percent to achieve my new goal…because I have decided to drink more wine in 2016. And not just any wine, but wine made close to home, right here in South Dakota!
Join me in making a resolution that you will actually enjoy keeping. Start drinking South Dakota wines today to be one of the eight percent who achieve their resolutions.
Start with bonded winery number one—South Dakota’s first commercial winery—Valiant Vineyards in Vermillion. The tasting room itself is open all year, though hours are limited during the winter months. Visit for a tasting, enjoy the restaurant, or stay at the bed and breakfast. Valiant has two incredibly popular wine selections: Sturgis Red and Full Throttle.
The Sturgis Red is a Merlot-based wine that is a serious choice. Full Throttle is actually a fortified Cabernet Sauvignon with increased flavor and alcohol. Valiant wines can also be found at the Stone Faces tasting room outside of Hill City.
Jim and Nona Schade have been growing hybrid grapes since 1999 near Volga. They focus on local ingredients for their wines, sourcing almost all fruit from within a 200-mile radius. The only fruit sourced from further away is for the very popular Cranberry wine—a wine worthy of a New Year’s goal. These berries are sourced from a Wisconsin grower to create a sweet and tart drink.
Another wine to sip is Schade’s Christmas Pleasure, a sweet grape wine with a hint of spice. To make this resolution even easier to achieve, a second tasting room is planned to open this spring in Hill City.
Located outside of Brandon, this family farm has been growing vines for nearly 20 years, since 1997. Jeff and Victoria now have over 2,000 vines and make wines only from South Dakota grapes. In addition, fruit wines are made from the home-grown rhubarb, plums, black currants, cherries, and black berries. Tastings are by appointment only, but the visit is definitely worth the trip, especially to try the Sweet Red wine. As its name states, this is a sweet, red wine from Wilde Prairie’s grapes, making it a great wine to start the New Year.
This very “innovative and sustainable” winery near Renner is actually made from bales of straw. This material acts as natural insulation to the entire facility, keeping the winery cool like the traditional wine caves of Europe.
A visit to the tasting room is fun and unique with live music and other special events all year. Sangria Sunday sounds like a fun way to spend a summer afternoon; however, a fabulous winter activity is the Twilight Flights—a helicopter ride over Sioux Falls while sipping Strawbale wines. A great way to begin a year of wine is to try the Cranberry Jalapeño wine, which is sweet with just a hint of kick at the end.
The largest winery on the western side of the state outside of Hill City, Prairie Berry has grown over the past ten years. Also, known for its great bistro, the tasting room is a wonderful place to stay for a meal while enjoying a glass of wine.
The recent expansion to Sioux Falls only makes it easier to taste great starter wines, such as Calamity Jane—my first favorite wine over a decade ago—a sweet wine from concord grapes, and Red Ass Rhubarb, a semi-sweet wine primarily from rhubarb.
Last, but definitely not least, Firehouse Wine Cellars in Rapid City is the state’s version of an urban winery. Wines are made from grapes only—no other fruits—and sourced from outside of Rapid, at Old Folsom Vineyard, or outside of the state, from the west coast. There are both sweet and dry wines from which to choose, and the sidewalk in front of the tasting room on Main Street is a great place to enjoy a glass of wine while nibbling on a cheese plate. Two great options to make part of a resolution are the BFF Sauvignon Blanc and the Firehouse Cabernet.
Other wineries worth a sip:
Belle Jolie Winery (Sturgis and Deadwood)
With the Wind Vineyard and Winery (Rosholt)
Bird Song Vineyards (Beresford)
Baumberger Vineyards and Winery (Dell Rapids)
Ghost Town Winery (Watertown)
So get started on a worthwhile resolution that you are surely able to keep: drink more wines in the New Year! Make a part of those wines South Dakota sips. Be part of that small minority that makes…and keeps…a resolution. Happy New Year!