Inquiries from afar inspire reflection on N.D. wine scene

The past year of writing this column has been full of rewards for yours truly. From the first column on, I have received encouragement from readers, both locally and as far away as New York and California. The digital Forum reaches far and wide, ...
Ron Smith

The past year of writing this column has been full of rewards for yours truly. From the first column on, I have received encouragement from readers, both locally and as far away as New York and California. The digital Forum reaches far and wide, well beyond our Upper Midwestern region.

I am asked one question more than any other: “What are your favorite white and red wines?” I begin to rattle off the typical ones that I commonly favor: riesling, moscato and gewürztraminer for the whites, and merlot, cabernet sauvignon and carmenere for the reds, but then I stop and think for a moment. I’ve also tasted some great wines by our local wineries as well, like Pointe of View winery in Burlington, N.D., Dakota Sun Gardens and Winery in Carrington, N.D., and the tasty creations coming from Bear Creek Winery in south Fargo.

Perhaps the best part of the past year of writing this column was the “discovery” on my part of just what all is going on at the Red Trails Vineyard in Buffalo, N.D. They have spring grape vine pruning for volunteers to become involved in, grape stomp parties in the fall and wine tastings galore, where some of the hybrid grape wines developed by North Dakota State University researchers can be tasted and evaluated. In addition, developing vineyards and wineries like 4Elements and Agassiz Shores, owned by Greg Cook and Mark Vining, respectively, have typically had some of their future wines available for sampling. Every one of the samples has an outstanding future for the North Dakota resident and tourist to enjoy.

Several of the wineries across the state have some fruit wines and honey (mead) wines on the market for pleasurable consumption. Wolf Creek Winery in Coleharbor, N.D., offers fruit and berry wines, along with cold-hardy, North Dakota-grown grape wines to enjoy. Located on Lake Sakakawea, it gives one the “feel” of a California vineyard in sight of the ocean – a little imagination required of course – but nonetheless a beautiful location to visit and do some tasting. BearPaw winery, located just 20 minutes east of Bismarck, specializes in honey wines, which are sourced from the Turtle Mountain wildflowers and trees.

There is much to enjoy wine-wise in North Dakota. As spring continues to encroach on winter’s fury, sit down and plan a route around our great state’s wineries. The North Dakota Tourism bureau and the North Dakota Grape Wine Association have information on their websites to help you plan and route a trip or two to these developing and fascinating wineries and vineyards this growing season.

I hope you know a little more about wine after a year of weekly columns. I know I have. It is my hope to continue well into the future in the mutual education and pleasure we can gain from studying and understanding the World of Wine.

Ron Smith, a retired NDSU Extension horticulturist, writes weekly about his love of wine and its history. Readers can reach him at tuftruck1@gmail.com.