Volga vineyard uses South Dakota-grown grapes in all their wines

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

For those who are used to South Dakota’s extreme weather, many would think that fruits could not grow here. One family begs to differ and has been defying the climate for nearly a decade.

Jim and Nancy Schade own and operate the third winery in the state to set up after the state legislature passed a 1996 law allowing farm wineries. Schadé Vineyard opened in 1999 near Volga, S.D., and bottled their first batch of wine in 2000.

“We started making wine as a hobby, and this is a hobby that got completely out of hand,” Jim Schade said.

In 2007, the vineyard produced 3,500 cases of wine. Currently they distribute in 50 stores statewide.

“The best thing about owning and operating a vineyard and winery,” Nancy Schade said, “is the challenge of doing something that not many other people are doing in this state. We have an opportunity to be involved in developing an industry that is both agriculture and agri-tourism. We have also met many wonderful people through this industry.”

All of the fruits used in the wine are either native to South Dakota or are grown in the state. All of the fruits are grown within 200 miles of the main vineyard, and they also bottle and label everything by hand.

“A lot of people think it’s unbelievable that you can grow grapes in South Dakota,” Nancy Schade said, “and so they’re very excited about having the opportunity to tour a producing vineyard and to taste wines made from fruit grown in South Dakota.”

Currently seven wines are produced periodically throughout the year, according to the vineyard’s Web site: http://www.schadevineyard.com/. These consist of Plum, Chokecherry, Rhubarb, Beet, Raspberry-Apple, Oakwood Red and Mead.

“One of my favorite wines is the Oakwood Red Table Wine,” Nancy said. “It is actually our best-selling wine, both at the winery and in the stores that sell our wine. ? [It] is a blending of wine made from red grapes. One of those grapes is the Valiant Grape.”

The Valiant grape was developed and released by SDSU in the 1980s. It was the work of Ron Peterson, a professor at SDSU who is now retired and lives in Brookings.

“We are proud to make a wine from the grape developed at SDSU,” Nancy said.

Both Jim and Nancy are 1976 SDSU graduates. Most of Schadé Vineyard’s employees are SDSU students; during the year, they probably have at least six students working part-time, Nancy said. They also have an internship program during the summer for horticulture or landscape design students.

“Many of our customers throughout the year are family and friends of SDSU students,” Nancy said.

Wines are available for tasting and for purchase at the winery Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The vineyard is closed Sundays and Mondays.

#1.882813:439918203.jpg:shadeowners_BR.jpg::Blair Rau