Whenever I plan a cross country trip, I get a list of places that my folks think that I should. When I told them I was heading to Walla Walla, they immediately started forming the list. Wall Drug. Devil’s Tower. Mt. Rushmore. Deadwood. Deadwood was especially high on my folks list as they were lovers of the HBO series, ironic given my mother’s basic prudish nature and sheer volume profane language leaving Al Swearengen (Ian McShane)’s mouth. Nevertheless, I readily assented to that stop.
And why? Well, there is more than just gold in them there hills. There happens to be wine too.
Now, now, now… I know what you are saying… WIne in South Dakota? Well, yes. There was even a winery near the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite, wine that I didn’t get to…. this time anyway.
Anywho, I was discussing Deadwood. So, I was gleeful as I reached the Black Hills. Wall Drug was stupid and a tourist trap that makes no sense to me. In all truth, I didn’t even stop. I know myself enough to understand that crowds and crap don’t attract me, but if that is how the town gets by? Go with God. You will get no complaints from me. Just don’t ask me to visit.
As it turns out there are five wineries in the Hills and two along my route. Stone Faces Winery, which had only been opened for a couple of months and the winery that I was originally heading for in the region, Prairie Berry. Stone Faces was so new that it had no offical signage. Not that this stops me.
I pulled into the new winery and walked in. The room was largely taken up by the large tasting bar, currently empty. But it was a Tuesday. It seems unlikely that this early in the summer that there would be a full room and during the Sturgis Rally? Well, forget about it. The place was probably packed. The winery is owned by the Nygaard Family of Valiant Winery, South Dakota’s first. In fact, Eldon Nygaard wrote South Dakota’s Farm Winery Act.
Having the winery pretty much to myself, I looked over the list and decided to try four options (my limit when I am on the road)
First up was the up was the Dakota’s Best Chardonnay. This wine had a light oaky flavor, but was generally too bland for me. I find that small wineries often have a harder time producing a full bodied dry white and this was true at Stone Faces. More impressive was the Canyon Lake White. This wine is semi-sweet and more like a Gewurztraminer though it is a predominantly Seyval blend. Still, a nice choice for spicy food or fresh caught Walleye or Catfish as is recommended by the winery.
Next up was the Sturgis Merlot. This wine had the proper body and juice but fell a bit flat at the end for me as there a smokiness that I wasn’t expecting.
The final wine that I tried was also related to Sturgis. The Full Throttle Wine is the Black Hills answer to Port. It is a fortified wine made exclusively for the Full Throttle Saloon. This was the best wine I had at the winery. I brought home a bottle for my Dad which we shared later.
So, yes. There is wine in the Hills. So get out there and start prospecting.
Stone Faces Winery
12670 Robins Roost Road
Hill City, South Dakota, 57745