Welcome to Episode 42 of the Make America Grape Again podcast, where we explore the wine scene of North Dakota. I hope you have your towel ready, this being episode 42 and all that. Our first examination of the North Dakota wine scene is the Pride of Dakota Tomato Wine from Maple River Winery, which is located in the historic town of Casselton. Ginger joins the team again for this episode!
While wild grapes and a host of other fruits were found growing along North Dakota’s riversides by early settlers, the climate in the state and the adoption of prohibition at the time of statehood in 1889 mean that the commercial wine history of North Dakota stretches back only to the 1990s. This puts North Dakota wines in a very recent mode. Yes, although North Dakota repealed its ban on alcohol in 1933 when Prohibition ended, but restrictive local laws surrounding winemaking lead to a distinct lack of any winemaking traditions in the state until very recently: 2002.
Viticulture is full of challenges in North Dakota due to the extremes of the local climate. The wine industry here is growing here, however – albeit slowly – and in 2011, there were nine wineries and 40 vineyards spread across the state. Most viticultural production in North Dakota is focused around cold-climate varietals created at the University of Minnesota, or local fruits and produce: hence, this episode’s Tomato wine.
This bottle was acquired by yours truly from the winery website itself. While none of us was, in the end, super fond of this wine (it was out of the wheelhouse for all of us), we did find the experience fascinating. I also admit I made a pretty nice Bloody Mary the next day with it, as seen in the photo below. Sometimes, you just need to make cocktails out in the middle of nowhere, you know?