Fargo on Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I know that this post isn’t really about Fargo, but then neither was movie (it was about Brainerd, MN) On the other hand, no one was killed.

So lighten up. (Francis)

Actually, the winery that I visited was in the same county as Fargo. Cass County. And the City of Cassleton is named after the same dude as the county. Do you know who he is? No? neither do I. I looked it up. He was the President of the Northern Pacific Railway, that is more than enough to know.
Salem SueSandy the Sand CraneGiant Bison with No Name
So, I have been driving for most of a day in North Dakota (it is a big state) looking at the amazing countryside and the funky sites. (North Dakota is full of giant animals. I saw the world’s largest Bison, the world’s largest Sand Crane (named Sandy) and the world’s largest Holstein Cow (Salem Sue). I even saw some real bison and a couple of albino ones as well in Jamestown. In my continuing quest to visit all the places named Lockport and Buffalo, I stopped to see the city of Buffalo, North Dakota (motto: “hi how are you”) and stopped at their gas station and Subway. Oh, and there are Badlands in North Dakota too (and I had a hard time convincing my father of that fact) and they are really quite breath taking).

But what does a wino on a cross country quest want to see the most? Wineries. When heading into Buffalo I was actually looking for a winery tweeted to me by the North Dakota Tourism Board, Red Trail Vineyard. Unfortunately my GPS was being unfriendly (not recognizing my existence on any map) and there was no signage in town. Yes, that is all that it takes to get me off the highway… A sign promising libations. Sigh. I never did find the winery, though I have visited their website and wish that they had an online store. Sighs again.
I continued down the road until I found Casselton, a town of about 2,000. The winery is located on Front Street, the main commercial drag and right along the railroad and next to the Pizza Baron. The winery, started in 2001, mainly produces country wines (i.e. Fruit wines). After looking around, I decided to taste several of the more unusual varieties.

I started with the Aronia wine. The Aronia, or Chokeberry is a very tart small berry that grows throughout North America. The resulting wine was dry with a sharp almost cranberry tartness.

Next I tried the Sand Cherry wine. These shrubs live in the sandy soils in the area that are the remnants of an extinct glacial lake and are sweeter then the Aronia. The wine was fruitier and still tart with an herbal quality.

Having stopped in South Dakota’s Prairie Berry Winery, I had already tried Choke Cherry wine, but as this is the State Fruit of North Dakota, I thought I would give it another try. The wine is semi-sweet though the tartness and astringency of the fruit.

The fruit that I had never heard of was my next wine. At Maple River they refer to the wine as mango melon, but the fruit is an heirloom variety of cantaloup called the vine peach. The flavor is more like a hard lemonade with a nice acidity.

The last wine that I tried was truly unique (at least for me so far). It was a lilac wine. Made in the same manner as a dandelion wine using the lilac flowers, the wine tastes and smells like a sunny May day. This was perfect for me, as lilac time is my favorite time of year.

In addition to wines, Maple River also produces local cordials, brandies and vodkas. These I did not taste as I needed to get back on the road and make my way to Bunbury Farm. Though, I did purchase a bottle of wild plum brandy. I wish I could tell you how it tasted, but unfortunately the bottle was broken by Sophie who was very, very sorry. Unfortunately, it appears that the spirits cannot be shipped outside of North Dakota.

Maple River Winery & Distillery
628 Front Street
Casselton, ND 58012

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