Local vineyard’s success stems from SDSU research

Victoria Riggs

Victoria Riggs

The grapevines growing on a hillside west of Volga also have deep SDSU roots.

The vineyard and winery were built from the ground up by Jim and Nancy Schade, natives of Volga and New Holland, respectively. The couple met while attending SDSU and were married in the campus Lutheran center.

After graduation the couple operated a farrow-to-finish operation in the Volga area. They went to California in search of greener pastures when the farm economy bottomed out in the 80s.

They lighted near Napa Valley and it was love at first sight. Their dream to grow grapes and make wine was born.

They brought their dream with them to Pierre when they returned to South Dakota after a year.

There they had the good fortune to become friends with a hobby vintner who taught them how to grow the hardy grape varieties developed especially for the harsh prairie winters.

“Jim had his eye on (the) property just outside of Volga, and when it became available we made an offer,” Nancy said.

They moved into the home they built along with their two sons, Reed and Ross, in October 2000.

Nancy took a position at SDSU as Coordinator of Disability Services. She recently resigned from this position to work full time for the vineyard.

Emily Bennett, a counselor with Vocational Rehabilitation Services, said, “Nancy went above and beyond to ensure that barriers would not hinder students from receiving an education. She has been a true and strong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.”

The Schades found a friend in Ron Peterson, retired horticulture professor at SDSU. He worked closely with them, helping to get the vineyards well-established. He is still a regular around the Schade vineyards.

One of Peterson’s successors at SDSU, Anne Fennel, lends her expertise. The Schades work hand-in-hand with the SDSU horticulture department as sponsors for student interns.

They also look to the marketing department for distribution pointers. One of their best sellers is wine gift baskets complete withcheese from the SDSU dairy.

All of this combined effort translates into good chemistry for their wine-making. In the few years the businesss has been licensed, sales have doubled each year. This year’s sales are expected to reach 2500 cases (with 12 bottles per case).

The Schades want to help others start vineyards in South Dakota.

“When opportunities present themselves, you need to follow a dream, and this was our dream,” Nancy said.