Volga winery accessible to students

Hannah Baker

The Schadé Vineyard and Winery in Volga invites participants to kick off their shoes and stomp in bare feet on Sept. 8 for its seventh annual Grape Stomp.

The free event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will allow people the opportunity to harvest their own grapes while on a tour of the South Dakota vineyard and stomp them into wine. Then, if participants are over the legal drinking age, they will be compensated for their hard work with free wine. Yes, free wine.

But Nancy Schade, co-owner in charge of marketing and who also supervises the tasting rooms at the winery, said Schade has a very strict carding policy and no one underage will be served alcohol. But, this doesn’t mean underage customers miss out on all the fun.

“Anyone under 21 years old can still participate and enjoy grape juice tastings instead,” Schade said.

The event will also feature live music provided by Kyle Knudson and another band called Plum Crazy.

“It’s always a fun event every year and people really enjoy it,” Schade said. “Students are always welcome to come out to try something new while enjoying a relaxing afternoon.”

The winery and vineyard, which sits on two acres of land about five miles from Brookings, cannot produce the amount of grapes necessary to meet the high demand for wine during the year. But Schade said the winery and vineyard tries to stay as true to its roots as possible and only buys other grapes from South Dakota and parts of Nebraska and Minnesota that are not over 200 miles away.

“We are very proud of our South Dakota wines,” she said.

The winery makes 21 different wines and two seasonal wines throughout the year — from sweet to dry and everything in-between. A handful of the wines available are: Rhubarb, a sweet wine; Pear, a semi-sweet wine; Dakota Red, a semi-dry wine; or the Signature Red, a dry wine. Each bottle is approximately $11.

Don’t know much about wine? Schade said this is not a problem. The winery provides education along with the free wine tastings. She said typically new wine drinkers prefer to start with sweet wines until their pallets develop a taste for dry wines.

Since the winery’s opening in year 2000, its bestseller has been the Oakwood table wine. Schadé and husband Jim, who makes the wine and handles the sales division of the winery, both graduated from SDSU and said this wine — a mix of Valiant and Frontenac grapes — was actually specially developed by SDSU.

“We always appreciate the working relationship we have with SDSU, so it’s nice that the wine was created with the school,” she said.

If making it to the Grape Stomp is out of the question, Schade said she hopes people will find another weekend or weekday to come out for its regular free wine tastings.

“People can be intimidated by wine if they don’t know much about it,” she said. “It’s always been a hobby for us so we’d like to instill that in others who are interested.”