State Profile: South Dakota Wine Country

South Dakota Wine Country

South Dakota had its first vineyard in the 1800’s, but it wasn’t until the 1990’s that today’s wine industry began to take root. The state’s northern latitude in the middle of the country brings temperature extremes of very hot summers and very cold winters that are not particularly conducive to growing traditional grapes. However, the cold-hardy “Minnesota” varieties have created new opportunities for high-quality wines in places like the famous Black Hills, which includes Mount Rushmore.

Belle Joli Winery is a good example, created by Matthew and Choi Jackson in Deadwood, but with a separate winemaking facility and tasting room in Sturgis, the famous mecca for serious bikers. The Sturgis “Sparkling House” produces classic bubblies on site, and includes an outdoor patio next to a five-acre vineyard. Winemaker Matthew Jackson learned the art and science of winemaking at UC Fresno, where he met his wife Choi, the CFO and a Certified Sommelier.

Great Grapes: Marquette

Developed by the University of Minnesota  Horticultural Center, the cold-hardy Marquette can withstand temperatures down to 36 below without serious injury and is largely disease resistant. It ripens in mid-season with high sugars (26 Brix) and moderate acidity (1.19%), and can make a ruby-red wine with pronounced tannins, complexity, and a pleasant mixture of fruit and spice notes on the nose and palate.