When you think of South Dakota, what comes to mind? Gorgeous landscapes, Mount Rushmore, and perhaps some cows roaming the fields? Well, hold onto your cowboy hats, because South Dakota is about to surprise you with something you probably never imagined—wines! Yes, you read that right—South Dakota has wines, and we are here to spill the grapes about it!
We had the privilege of sitting down with the wonderful Vanessa Christensen from With the Wind Winery, and let us tell you, folks, the passion for winemaking in South Dakota is as fierce as the winter chill. “South Dakota is a very interesting state,” Vanessa giggles, “because it gets very warm in the summer and very cold in the winter. We like to keep things exciting!”
So, how does one grow grapes in a state that experiences such temperature extremes? Vanessa spills the secrets, “Our cold-hardy grape vines are mainly developed through the University of Minnesota, and new grape vines are being developed all the time for our region! We have varieties like Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Crimson Pearl, Itasca, King of the North, and La Crescent. These grapes have got some real attitude, let me tell you. They can handle the freezing temps in winter and the sizzling summers. It’s like they’ve got a ‘bring it on’ attitude!”
Now, let’s talk geography. South Dakota is known for its vast landscapes, from rolling prairies to the majestic Black Hills. With the Wind Winery is located in the northeast corner of the state, sandwiched between Minnesota and North Dakota. “We’ve got a little bit of everything here,” Vanessa grins. “Flat farmland, rolling hills, prairies, and lovely lakes. And oh, the sunsets! You’ve never seen sunsets like the ones we get here. The sky is big, and the beauty is even bigger. If only we could bottle that magic!”
So, how did this grape adventure begin in a state more known for its buffalo than its bouquets? It all started with Lisa and Jeremiah Klein, who traded in the mountains of Colorado to come back to their South Dakota roots. They bought a farm site with the intention of just raising a family, but the soil had other plans—grape-growing plans! “It was like the soil whispered to them, ‘Hey, you’d make some mighty fine wines here!'” Vanessa chuckles. “And that’s how it all began.”
Since their grape-powered awakening in 2014, the Klein family has transformed their farm into a lush vineyard, boasting over 5,000 grapevines spread across six and a half acres. “It’s been a wild ride, let me tell you,” Vanessa exclaims. “We’ve had our fair share of challenges, but the love for grapes and wine brought us all together, turning us into a dream team of over 20 employees. We’re like a grapevine family!”
So, you might be wondering, where can you get a taste of this South Dakota grape magic? “Visitors of South Dakota can find small wineries all over the state,” Vanessa beams. “But if you want the ultimate grape adventure, head straight to With the Wind Vineyard & Winery! Our wine list caters to every palate, from sweet to dry and still to sparkling! We’ve got the widest variety of wines, and guess what? We’re South Dakota’s largest vineyard and winery!”
So, there you have it, folks! South Dakota has wines—wines that can withstand both the blazing sun and the icy chill, just like the spirited folks who make them. The next time you’re driving through the plains, make a detour and discover the unexpected grape pursuits of South Dakota. Who knows, you might just find yourself sipping on a glass of wine and toasting to the delightful surprises this state has to offer. Cheers to South Dakota wines—the hidden gems of the Great Plains!
a single mom with a passion for writing. By day, Louisa works in a restaurant, but by night, she loves nothing more than putting pen to paper. Her favorite book is the Twilight series, which gives you a glimpse into her romantic and adventurous side. Louisa is a proud Italian American and fluent in Italian, which adds depth and richness to her writing. Her writing is heartfelt and genuine, and she's always looking for new ways to connect with her readers.