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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Try These Wines, But Don't Whine

As every semi-serious wine drinker knows, the place where the grapes are grown has more to do with the quality of the wine than probably anything else — even the grapes. That's why Napa, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Sonoma, Mendoza and Rhone wines are famous.

Part of the place is the land itself, and in a way the tougher the dirt, the better the wine. No pain, no gain. The vines suffer for great wine. The other part of terroir — the place — is the weather. To oversimplify, hot days and cool nights make great wine.

But every place seems to have some local winemaking these days. So, it was not a total surprise on our recent visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota that we found some local wineries. (Our friend Sandy included an Eastern South Dakota wine, Schade, in her post on how to host a wine tasting.)

Finding wineries in the Black Hills is even less surprising when you realize that tourism — think Deadwood, Custer, Mount Rushmore, Indians, gold mines, Dances with Wolves, Crazy Horse, snow skiing and Reptile Gardens — is the lifeblood of the Hills.

But if this land will ever become a great grape-growing region, it will take some more time. The results tend to be sweet and sharp. On the other hand, put two aging Baby Boomers in a car on a long road trip and you can count on many of them pulling into a wine-tasting room with some regularity.

Our first winery billboard outside Hill City, SD, and only a few miles from Mount Rushmore, alerted us to the Stone Faces winery on US Highway 385. Across the road and not far north was the Prairie Berry Winery. Prairie Berry's signature wine is Red Ass Rhubarb.

Prairie Berry is one of 15 wineries in the Black Hills, all producing a total of 300,000 bottles of wine a year. Prairie Berry specializes in fruit and honey wine. The Prairie Berry parking lot was full, and much busier than Stone Faces', because in the land of tourists, a gimmick is worth a pan of gold.


  1. The name itself makes it worthwhile!

  2. Replies
    1. I believe that it is. I read on their web site that they do not use animal products in their wine.