After seeing a few small wineries during a trip to New Zealand, Don and Susie South completely changed the direction of their lives. With no farming background according to Don, they opened Strawbale Winery in Renner. Now, they offer an array of grape, fruit, and specialty wines along with three hard cider choices.
“That’s how our dream began, and we’ve been doing it for 16 years,” said Don.
Don chatted with 605 about his life before and after the pandemic from meeting with friends, to vacations, to spending time with their grandchildren.
We haven’t been out since I don’t know when. What we’ve been doing instead is inviting friends out here [to the winery] and social distancing in our yard and enjoying company.
Don’s Drink of Choice
Beddy Farm Perry
Stop by the winery Pear cider spiked with Strawbale’s own Black Currant Wine.
Old McDonald had a Farm
We’ve got about 35 chickens, and they’re all bantams. There are five cats on the farm, two of which are kittens. One of the cats is going to have kittens any day now.
[Running the winery] has been a full life experience for the last few years. But in winter time, what we’ll do is start a fire and binge on Netflix. We watch whatever hits our fancy at the time. My wife seems to like the British investigative, detective-type shows.
[SUSIE] HAS BEEN SO UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE OF SOME OF THE STRANGE THINGS I’VE DONE IN MY LIFE. I’VE TRIED TO BE AS SUPPORTIVE AS I COULD BE TO HER. I THINK THE KEY [TO RELATIONSHIPS] IS TO EMPATHIZE WITH EACH OTHER, AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHERE THE OTHER ONE IS COMING FROM.”
Take Me Home, Country Road
We haven’t had time to go on many walks. But we live in the country. So if we want to go on a walk, we just hop on the gravel road and take off down the path.
I love the Badlands [National Park], especially at night. The stars are just incredible. There’s no light pollution out there, so you can see the Milky Way and the stars around it. We’re beyond tent camping years, so we stay in cabins out there.
Feeling the Heat
We used to go someplace warm in the winter, though we didn’t do that last year. We’ve really started to enjoy Orange Beach, AL. It has beautiful sugar sand beaches, and it’s right between the Mississippi and Florida. It’s a beautiful secret area.
My favorite restaurant was Minervas, pre-pandemic. I loved their salad bar, which I don’t think exists right now. They used to make a New York Strip [steak] with garlic and blue cheese. It was excellent.
5 Random Facts
+ I’ve been in Sioux Falls for many years. I remember when Minnesota Avenue was two lanes. I go back that far.
+ [Susie and I] got married in 1976, so we’re going on 44 years.
+ After we got married, we moved to Humboldt and had a street dance. Every town had one in the summertime, but we had one in the wintertime. It was incredibly well received, and CBS News actually did a story on it.
+ Every school I ever went to is no longer for its original purpose. [My] middle school is now an alternative school, and Washington High School is now [the Washington Pavilion].
+ I got a diagnosis of lymphoma on Christmas Eve last year. I just got done with chemotherapy in June, so I’ve got a clean bill of health.
October 10 // 11 A.M. // Free Admission
Stop by the winery to celebrate harvest ending. Sip wine, play games, listen to live music by the Shamrockers, munch on food from food trucks, and stroll through various vendors. For more info, visit Strawbale’s Facebook page.
I’ve got two daughters and two grandchildren. They’re 10 and 12 years old. We like to spend time with them. We have a trampoline out here, a pool that we just put down. We’ve had a nice summer to utilize the pool and trampoline. And we have golf carts that they really like to drive around. They enjoy summers out here on the farm.