Grape pruning topic of class at museum The essentials of propagating and pruning grape vines will be the topic of discussion at the W.H. Over Museum on Saturday, April 7.
The class will be led by Sherry Nygaard of the Buffalo Run Winery, Vermillion. Nygaard and her husband have been working with grapes from a commercial wine-growing perspective for 14 years. They have lots to say about the problems of growing the necessary varieties in South Dakota's cold climate and heavy soils to produce a flavorful grape.
Though most of their grapes are grown in the Viborg area, they have built the winery here in Vermillion along a bluff overlooking the Vermillion River valley.
Nygaard's talk on Saturday is part of the program of the education committee of the W.H. Over Museum. It will be directed at helping people care for their grape vines, especially wild grapes, and will provide information about growing vines as fruit bearing, decorative plants in home gardens.
Though wild grape vines are almost unknown in southeast South Dakota because of their sensitivity to herbicides, they are native plants to the North American continent. Pioneers to this area used wild grapes for food and preserved them as jams, jellies, and juice. Along with wild cherries and plums, grapes provided much needed energy and vitamin C, and added flavor to their diets.
The native people used grapes and other wild fruits as food for centuries before the immigrants from the European continent showed up. They dried and ground the berries for winter eating, combining them with suet and dried meats for a tasty, quick energy food.
Today the American wild grape root is regularly used in the wine making industry because of its hardiness and resistance to disease. In the 20th century the American wild grape saved many European vineyards because of a disease that attacked and destroyed the roots of their prize grapes. Horticulturalists grafted the desired varieties onto the American wild grape roots to overcome the problem.
This Saturday morning at the W.H. Over Museum will be a busy time. Not only will the class, led by Nygaard, explore the requirements for successful grape growing in this area, but also children will be doing their annual pre-Easter basket making project at 9 a.m. At 10 a.m. the annual Easter egg hunt sponsored by the Sertoma Club will take place on the lawn. In case of bad weather, the hunt will be moved inside the museum. For more information, please call the museum, 677-5228.