Frequently Asked Questions
Where is your wine made?
Right here, in our family-owned winery in the Black Hills of South Dakota, just a few miles from Mount Rushmore. Our Tasting Room counter is just feet from where the fruit is pressed, the juice fermented and the wine aged.
Where do you get your fruit and grapes?
We get many of our grapes from Lewis & Clark Vineyards near Yankton, S.D. Some grapes–like Chardonnay and Zinfandel–won’t grow in South Dakota’s climate, so we buy those from more temperate areas, like California and New York. Our wild fruit, like chokecherries, buffaloberries, wild grapes and wild plums are hand-picked in South Dakota. Our pickers know where and when to find the fruit. Other fruit, like rhubarb and raspberries, come from various sources. Some of our fruit sources are determined by who has the fruit we need when we need it. Untimely frost or flooding conditions can send us looking for new sources.
How do you come up with the names?
All our wines are named by our winemaker, Sandi and her family. The stories behind the names are sometimes funny, sometimes obvious. (You can probably figure out where we got the name for Wild Plum).
How do you make your wine taste so good?
Practice and perfection. Sandi and her production staff are very aware of the necessity of both in making great wine. Oh yeah, and Mother Nature. She makes some pretty great grapes. And raspberries. And rhubarb. And chokecherries…you get the idea. The best part is that the fruit is never the same two years in a row. That keeps us from getting bored.
Are there sulfites in your wine?
Yes, we do add very small amounts of sulfites to our wines, but they are also a natural byproduct of the winemaking process even when they are not added. Here’s an article with more information about sulfites–in summary, they probably don’t cause that red wine headache.
Is your wine gluten-free?
To the best of our knowledge, most of our wines are gluten-free. However, we don’t test for gluten, so aren’t comfortable labeling as gluten-free. Some of our oaked red wines may contain gluten from a wheat paste that is used to seal the heads of the barrel.
Do you use organic fruit?
One of our priorities is to create a high-quality, sustainable product for our customers, so we use only fruit that meets our stringent criteria for quality. Our growers are not certified organic, but do work very hard to produce a product with minimal impact on the surrounding environment. Much of our fruit grows wild, so thrives in the conditions that naturally exist–no fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, fungicide or anything else that doesn’t fall from the sky or live in the ground.
Do you use any animal products in your wine?
No, we don’t add any animal products, including isinglass, to our wines.
I’ve had this kind of wine before, but this tastes different. Why?
Winemaking is an art. Hand an artist three colors of paint and tell her to paint the same thing three times and you’ll get three different results. When Sandi gets a shipment of fruit or grapes she has to consider the sugar content, the acid content and several other factors. These things vary from place to place and year to year. Our wines, especially the wines made from South Dakota-grown grapes, are created to best showcase the unique features of that year’s harvest and may have the same name but be a completely different style of wine.
Can you ship wine to me?
The easy answer is “it depends.” We can ship to many states, but we recommend checking our shipping page before you get your heart set on ordering some wine to be shipped.
How much does it cost to ship wine?
Again, it depends. It depends on how much wine you’re shipping, and to where. Our wine club members get $12 flat-rate shipping no matter how much wine they ship.
Where can I buy your wine?
Why don’t you have [name of favorite wine]?
Our production capacity is limited and we make a lot of different wines for a lot of different palates. We make as much of a wine as we have the space, fruit and demand for, but we do sell out of most of our wines before we get more made. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes, but it gives you the opportunity to try something new. Who knows? You may find a new favorite.
What food would be good with this wine?
Our pairing suggestions are listed on the individual wine pages.
I don’t have an alcohol license, but I want to serve your wine at my business. Is this legal?
The state law prohibits you from serving liquor, liqueurs or cordials (like vodka or gin), but you can serve wine, Champagne or malt beverages.
There is no charge for the alcohol.
There is no cover charge for the event.
You do not make any profit from the alcohol.
You do not serve anyone under the age of 21.
Your local ordinances may prohibit serving alcohol without a license, so check with your local governing entity. (Please don’t consider this legal advice. We’re winemakers. Laws can change, so check with your attorney or the state/local laws before planning this type of event.)
TRAVELING WITH WINE
Can I take wine on an airplane?
You can check wine, but you cannot carry it on. We can help you wrap the wine to improve your odds of getting home with the wine still in the bottle, but we recommend you ship the wine if possible. Check here for our shipping guidelines.
How many bottles of wine can I take back to Canada?
This is from the Canada Border Services Agency:
You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes:
– 1.5 litres (that’s two, standard 750-mL bottles or 53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
– a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
– up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale.
These limits are per person over the age of 21.
Should I keep wine in my car?
No. Well, not beyond getting it from point A to point B. We encourage people to treat wine like you would treat a beloved pet. Don’t leave it in a car that’s too hot or too cold. When you are done traveling for the day, take the wine into your lodging with you. When wine gets above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it begins to deteriorate. That can happen quickly in a car on a hot day. Click here for more information about caring for your wine.
VISITING THE WINERY
How much does a tasting cost?
Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Yes, it’s FREE! You get five samples of our wines for free. If that’s not enough, you can get another five samples for $5. Interested in joining the Gen5 Wine Club? Ask to taste some of our exclusive members-only wines.
What are your hours?
We are open daily, year-round. The only exceptions are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday. Our hours are extended during the summer and early fall. Please check the calendar for our hours during your visit.
Do you give tours?
Since our winery is in production year-round, we are unable to offer tours most of the time. Our annual Fezziwig Festival in December gives guests a chance to see our production area.
When is a good time to visit?
Anytime! We are open year-round, and the Black Hills are beautiful anytime. Our busiest time is between 1 and 3 p.m. during the summer. For a more laid-back experience, join us earlier or later, or see how wondrous winter in the Black Hills can be!
Are there hotels nearby?
Yes. Hill City offers a variety of lodging options, from bed and breakfasts to cabins, campgrounds and hotels. The Hill City Chamber of Commerce offers a listing of the options in Hill City.
Can I bring my kids?
Absolutely! We are very kid-friendly, just like the rest of the Black Hills. We have some kids’ activities, animal crackers and several kids’ menu items from our Kitchen.
Can I bring my well-behaved small dog?
Not inside. Sorry, our health codes stipulate that we can allow only service animals in the winery. Well-behaved dogs are welcome to join their owners on the patio (provided the owners are equally well-behaved).
Do I need to make reservations?
Not usually. Reservations for a small group (less than 10) for wine tasting or lunch isn’t necessary, but if you are bringing a large group, planning an event or coming with a bus group, we appreciate advance notice so we can prepare for you.
What does it cost to join your wine club?
Nothing. It’s completely free to join. Your only cost is the wine shipment every few months, with your wine club discount (average for our most popular club, the Gen5 Legacy Cru is about $80). If you live out of state and we ship your wine to you (click here to see if we can do that), it costs only $12 to ship any amount of wine.
When will I get my wine club wine?
We release wine club shipments/orders in March, June and September for Cellar Cru members, and March, June, September and December for Legacy Cru members. If you are picking it up at the winery, it should be available early in the month. If it’s shipped, the exact ship date will vary depending on where you live.
Can I work here?
Well…only if you like to have fun in a positive, rewarding atmosphere. If that’s not your thing, this probably isn’t the place for you. We typically hire seasonal employees for the Tasting Room, Kitchen and Events in the spring and we usually are looking to fill a few spaces in the late summer, but we do have occasional job openings year-round. All our job openings are posted on our website.
Do you do customized wine labels?
We are not set up to create customized wine labels.