Searching for the perfect gift to get that favorite co-worker or wine enthusiast in your life? South Dakota Wine: A Fruitful History, by co-authors Denise DePaolo and Kara Sweet, captures the essence of the state’s wine industry and the families who built it. 605 had the opportunity to chat with the vino connoisseurs.

What topics are covered in the book?

Denise DePaolo: We discuss the migration of settlers to this region before statehood and the winemaking traditions they brought along, including family stories from wineries like Prairie Berry Winery and Valiant Vineyards.

Kara Sweet: We also talk a lot about the special grapes that can grow here in South Dakota’s cold climate, and how these grapes were created by science.

What inspired you both to write about South Dakota’s wine?

DD: The publisher reached out and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in writing a book on the topic. It is part of Arcadia Publishing’s American Palate series. Kara and I immediately jumped at the chance.

KS: This project was just another way for me to promote the growing wine industry in South Dakota, a topic which I believe and am incredibly passionate about.

Why is our wine industry so new?

KS: Laws had to be passed to make commercial wine making legal, and then the grapes and knowledge of how to make wine had to follow.  A lot has happened in 20 years.

What makes South Dakota wine unique?

DD: Since the industry is so new, many of the original winery owners are still around. We spent many weekends during the summer of 2016 visiting wineries, attending wine festivals, and meeting halfway to work together. (Sweet is from Rapid City and DePaolo is from Sioux Falls.)

KS: First-hand stories of family history. We were so upset when, a little over a month after we submitted our final manuscript, one of the leading pioneers, Ralph Vojta, passed away.  I was so happy to have so many stories from him and his daughter, Sandi.

Do you have any predictions?

DD: I’m hoping to see more South Dakota wines on lists at bars and restaurants. They’ve embraced local beer – now it’s time to get behind local wine and spirits.

KS: To see the most success, the wineries need to cooperate to build their industry and make sure they don’t focus on competing against each other.

Are there upcoming events for the book?

DD: On November 30, I’ll be speaking about the book and South Dakota wine at Siouxland Heritage Museums’ History Happy Hour at the Pettigrew Museum. Also, I will be selling books that day at Fresh Produce’s Kiosk Thursday.

KS: I will be doing a holiday event in my hometown December 1 in Newcastle, Wyoming, eight miles from the South Dakota border, but a proud part of the Black Hills region.

Find South Dakota Wine: A Fruitful History online at Amazon and keep up on South Dakota wines with their Instagram @SouthDakotaWine.

Where You Can Buy the Book

Zandbroz Variety

Barnes & Noble

Front Porch (S.F.)


Firehouse Wine Cellars


Holiday Winery Happenings

Ladies Night Out at Belle Joli

Sturgis // November 30

Strawbale Winery Twilight Flights

Renner // December 1-16

Firehouse Wine Cellars Christmas Party

Rapid City // December 10

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