Great Dakota Wine Fest set for Vermillion this weekend

Six wineries are again combining their offerings and energies to provide different wine from across South Dakota this weekend at the Great Dakota Wine Fest at Valiant Vineyards in Vermillion.

But it won't just be the professionals who will provide the wine. For the third year, the festival will have an amateur winemaking contest.

The festival will have something for everyone, with various food vendors, craft vendors, music and grape stomping.

"It's the biggest event of the year and a lot of fun. It's something unique," said Adrienne Lewis, the coordinator of the event for Valiant Vineyards. "We've had between 500 to 700 people before, and we will hopefully keep getting more people. It's a community event."

The event will start Saturday when the gate to Valiant Vineyards opens at 10 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m. The festival will continue on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

Other wineries that will be at the Great Dakota Wine Fest are White Headed Robin from Viborg, Bird Song Vineyards from Beresford, Chrisa Mari from Pierre and Stone Faces Winery in Hills City.

Lewis said each winery will bring its own unique wine to the event.

"It's interesting because we are bringing other wineries in, and it's a new industry in South Dakota," she said.

Having six different wineries in one place may spark some competition, but Lewis said having the six wineries together would only help the wine industry in South Dakota.

"That's the good thing about it because something like this helps each one out," she said. "If the people like the wine, then they will want to go out to another winery to try that wine. One of the next projects that I want to set up is tour of the different wineries in South Dakota."

The Great Dakota Wine Fest will also feature wine from the amateur winemaking contest.

Lewis said the competition has seen many different types of wine.

"One of the wines we have had is a jalapeno wine; we get different fruit wines, red wines and white wines," she said. "We usually get some good ones. Wine making is a journey, and every year, you improve and learn new tricks to it."

People at the Great Dakota Wine Fest will have the opportunity to take their frustrations out on some fruit as a grape stomp will be offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

"I think that will be a draw, because you don't get stomp on a barrel full of grapes every day," Lewis said.

For those who do participate in the grape stomping, they will receive a bottle of wine with their picture on it.

"It's a unique souvenirs that they can receive, and some of them use it as their Christmas presents," Lewis said.

Lewis will help present a Sangria bar at the festival as well, which will have a bit of a twist.

"We've done sangria every year, so a pretty good knowledge of it has been developed," she said. "This year, we are going to add wine slushies to it, which have become popular."

A few different musicians will be on hand during the festival. One of the singers is Jami Lynn.

"I was jumping up and down when I found out that she was coming," Lewis said.

Narrative Feed and Shawn Coles will also perform at the event.

Dakota Harvest Lamb and Prairie Sun Organics will be two of the food vendors on hand, and Valiant Vineyards will have its own food booths that will provide Indian Tacos.

For more information, contact Valiant Vineyards at 605-624-4500, or visit the website at www.greatdakotawinefest.com.

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