Mention South Dakota and everyone immediately thinks of Mt. Rushmore. The monument is carved on sacred land belonging to Native Americans, but did you realize how much of the state revolves around their culture and heritage? Use Sioux Falls as your home base to explore southeast South Dakota. Sioux Falls is named for the magnificent waters of the Big Sioux River that cascade in Falls Park. As the state’s largest city, visitors can enjoy its pioneer culture, historic sites, friendly residents, a zoo, eclectic shops and 600 restaurants.
The American wine craze has spread north by northwest, too. In 1997, the South Dakota legislature approved wine-making in the state, and the vintners immediately began producing fine wines. There are two great wineries within 15 minute’s drive from Sioux Falls.
Jeff Wilde, who was born in South Dakota, was already ahead of the wine game because he grew up in California. After moving back to the Mount Rushmore State, he grew alfalfa on his farm. He quickly switched, and now grows four red grapes and two whites. His Prairie Red is made from his Valient grape and Sweet Red from his Frontenac. With his fruit wines, he uses only produce from South Dakota. His wife, Victoria, won a bronze medal at the International Women’s Winemakers for the fruit wine, Rhuberry (made from rhubarb and raspberries).
Don South has gone “green” with compressed Strawbales that insulate his winery, thus reducing energy needs. He specializes in producing fruit wines, in addition to the grape varieties, because… “it opens up connects with people and opens up conversations.” He also says that the fruit winds remind them of their past when family members made wine, like his Grandpa Pete’s Strawberry Rhubarb Wine. If you’d like to have picnic supper paired with wine on Strawbale’s expansive lawn, contact them in advance.
Photos by Eleanor Hendricks McDaniel