Each year, hundreds gather on the sprawling lawn of Vermillion’s Valiant Vineyards for the Great Dakota Wine Fest. It’s a celebration of the harvest, of creativity, and most of all, an excuse to enjoy great wine in an idyllic country setting. Valiant’s Adrienne Lewis explains why this year’s 1950s-themed event will be especially fun.

Aside from drinking wine, what is there to do at the Great Dakota Wine Fest?

Adrienne Lewis: Grape stomping,  cooking with wine demonstrations, sangria on the balcony, wine tours, dancing, live music by Jami Lynn and others. More activities for families are currently in the works. Updates we be posted on the website.

Tell us a little about the amateur wine making contest.

AL: The amateur wine making is a chance for home winemakers to show off their skills and get some great feedback from our expert panel of judges. A certificate is issued for ‘best of show’ and ‘best in category.’ The judging takes place in the tasting room for anyone to watch.

What are some of the most unique wines you’ve seen entered?

AL: We have had a jalapeño wine and tomato beet. We have some hybrid ports as well.

What makes Valiant a great place to spend a summer day?

AL: We have some delicious wine, of course, and one of the best views around. Our goal is to make each wine tasting a true South Dakota tasting experience for our guests. My hope for everyone who walks in our doors is to learn something new about wine, even for the wine experts that come in, or at the very least some good jokes, recipes or stories. The best thing is to go through the wine tasting and then enjoy a glass (or bottle) on the balcony. For the ultimate experience, take your time and stay the night in our bed and breakfast!

Why do you think this event has been so popular over the years?

AL: The easy answer is, ‘Because there is wine.’ But really, I think it’s because it has a great balance of learning new, exciting things about wine and food and it’s just a great way to have a lot of fun, or to simply relax! It’s a great experience for those just starting out on their wine journey, as well as experts, and especially for those of us who absolutely geek out about the Midwest, as we invite other South Dakota wineries and guest chefs to join us in wine education. This truly is an exciting time to share in the wine experience in this area as the industry is still new and changing all the time.

How much is admission?

AL: Fifteen dollars, which includes your tasting ticket, a souvenir glass, access to the cooking demonstrations, and winery grounds with the live music.

Is it family and pet friendly?

AL: Absolutely! We always have some fun activity for the kids to do. You are welcome to set up camp outback with chairs or blankets where friendly furry friends can join you.

For more info, visit greatdakotawinefest.com or call (605) 624-4500.

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