What To Drink During a Winter Storm

I saw a Facebook post from Maple River Winery.

They got an inch of snow today and are expection snow, sleet and freezing rain tomorrow.  Along with 50 mph winds.

They are suggesting Rhubarb or Raspberry wines to get them through a nasty North Dakota storm.

What do you drink when you are hunkered down?

(btw, I suggested one bottle per type of precipitation… )


 Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

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

Road Trip Planning 2010 – North Dakota

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

North Dakota! Where the winds go sweeping down the plains! Ooops, wrong song. But North Dakota is where I’ll wind up next and there are plains. So that much is accurate. To get there, all I have to do is cross the Red River from Minnesota. Easy-peasy. Now, I have seen the Red in action. it is no meek, mild river. I got to enjoy its delightful flooding during the summer of 1993 in the even more delightful city of Winnipeg. Do you know how big mosquitos get in Manitoba during a flood? I still have nightmares about them.

So what do I have to look forward to in North Dakota?

Well, there is Fargo. Still no Marge, but still. I also get to go through the capital, Bismarck, named for the German Chancellor, not the donut.

Other options for me:

The Roger Maris Museum
The National Buffalo Museum where there are albino bison.
A walking tour of Louis L’Amour’s hometown
I got excited about the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Hall of Fame, but it turns out that it is a portrait gallery of famous North Dakotans Now it is interesting because I learned that Lawrence Welk, Peggy Lee and Angie Dickinson all came from North Dakota.
Fort Abraham Lincoln and Custer House might be more up my alley so long as I avoid the guided tour (I have been banned from the Freedom Trail, after all. Marguerite is similarly banned. We are not good on historical tours, in fact, we are downright snarky.)
Salem Sue! I love giant animals! I visit the Big Duck often, how could I skip the duck’s dairy equivalent?
Dakota Dinosaur Museum. Did you just hear my nerd alert go off? WHEE!
Did I mention that this will be my first time seeing the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt_National_Park?

Now I just have to figure out what the quintessential food of North Dakota is… Any ideas? You know how to reach me or comment below.

Road Trip 2010 Planning!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

This year, I will once again, be driving out the Wine Blogger’s Conference. This year, the event will be held in beautiful Walla Walla, Washington. Naturally, I need to find places to stop along the way. No road trip is complete without a bite of the local color. So the key is to start planning now. I have two potential routes to adventure. I can either take the incredibly convenient to hop onto Interstate 90 which will lead me through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington; OR the equally incredibly convenient to hop onto Interstate 94 which will lead me through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington.

Choices, choices. The common denominator is the ease with which I will be able to hit the road as from Chez Neuman it is a five minute drive to either Interstate. Talk about your Gateway to the West!

Now is the time, for me to figure out as much as I can to make an informed drive. So if you know a cool, geeky spot, I should stop, a nice, but reasonable place to stay for the night, the local fare that should be tried or a great winery along the way? Email me at gretchen@vinoverve.com. If I use your suggestion a beautiful Locapour t-shirt could be yours!