The severe climate of the northern plains is partly to blame for the wine industry’s slow growth here. Bitterly cold winters and dry summers make an inhospitable environment for most vine types, except for the native Vitis riparia. As a species, riparia has been of little interest to the wine world, except as phylloxera-resistant rootstock, or for its cold-hardy genes. Amazingly however, at least one producer makes wine from this wild vine. Throughout the upper Midwest, ,i>riparia’s greatest use has been in the parentage of many important cold-climate hybrids, including a South Dakotan original called Valiant. The aptly-named Valiant was created at South Dakota State University in 1967. Valiant is claimed to survive winter temperatures as low as -70 F. The other grape varieties planted in South Dakota shouldn’t surprise those who know cold-hardy grapes: Minnesota’s Kay Gray, Edelweiss, Swensen Red, St. Croix and Frontenac, along with French hybrids Marechal Foch and DeChaunac. Four farm wineries now operate here with the first license granted in 1996 to the authors of the South Dakota Farm Winery Act, Eldon and Sherry Nygaard at Valiant Vineyards.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
Alive & Well here
You are strong and daring…a winter warrior.
You first conquered the South Dakota Badlands,