Vermillion gears up for Great Dakota Wine Fest

Vermillion gears up for Great Dakota Wine Fest by David Lias You don't need to know the difference between a good Chardonnay and a Burgundy to fully appreciate all that is planned for the first Great Dakota Wine Fest.

The event will be held in Vermillion Sept. 11 and 12, with activities held throughout the Vermillion community and at the Valiant Vineyards Winery, located on the western outskirts of town.

What's happening in Vermillion:

* Bicycle ride. With the profits going to the MS Society, this bike ride showcases two Lewis & Clark points of interest. There will be a long (35 miles) and a short (15 miles) route. The first portion of the route will take bikers to Spirit Mound north of Vermillion. The longer route takes participants over the Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge into Nebraska to a Lewis & Clark campsite along Highway 12.

For more information about the bike ride, contact Kevin Brady at or by phone at 605-624-5123.

* Bull-A-Rama. Vermillion's 11th annual Bull-A-Rama will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12. Sponsored by the Coyote Country Rodeo Club, the event is held at the arena located three miles west on Timber Road.

* Canoe and boat trips. People who want to take a journey by canoe or boat

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on the Missouri River may sign up for an hour tour on the front porch of the winery. Buses will provide transportation to and from the river.

* USD football. Come and watch The University of South Dakota Coyotes as they take on the Minnesota State University at Moorhead Dragons in men's football in the DakotaDome. The game will be held in the DakotaDome Saturday, Sept. 11, starting at 2 p.m.

* Car Show. The Dakota Classic Cruisers "Show and Shine" Antique Car Show will be held in downtown Vermillion from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12.

* Golf. Wine festival attendees may play The Bluffs 18-hole golf course in Vermillion. Tee times are available for festival attendees on Sunday, Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make reservations by calling The Bluffs golf course at 677-7058. Attendees who show their festival wrist bands will receive a discounted rate of $20 for 18 holes with a cart.

* Downtown merchants. Vermillion's downtown merchants will also be giving discounts to any person sporting a Great Dakota Wine Fest wristband.

What's happening at the winery:

* Musical entertainment. A wide variety of musical entertainment is planned for the festival at the winery. Performers include Robert Fine, a Frank Sinatra historian from Kelowna, British Columbia, T. Wilson King and the Painkillers from Vermillion, Rude Awakening, and the famed Poker Alice Band.

* Wine tasting. Every adult ticket allows 10 free samples of wine each day. Wine will be available for purchase the entire weekend at significant discounts. Enjoy wine by the glass or the bottle at the festival, and take it home by the case.

* Great food. Barbecued pork, beef and buffalo will be available in the park behind the winery each day. Home-made pies and ice cream will be available for dessert.

* Grape stomp. Participants will have a chance to take off their shoes and stomp grapes in a tank in the old world tradition. All grape stompers will be photographed, and for a charge, a special bottle of wine will be created with the photo. Allow up to one day for the personal bottle of wine to be completed.

* Winery tours. Tour Valiant Vineyards winery and see first hand how the first winery in South Dakota produces wine. Learn the process of how grapes go from vine to wine. See the bottling line, barrel room and wine tanks.

Other festival activities planned at the winery include lessons on cooking with wine, shopping at the South Dakota Made Gift Shop, and Sunday morning breakfast of pancakes, sausage, coffee or milk, served from 7 to 11 a.m.

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