Each season brings new happenings to the winery, but this time of year is extra special. It’s crush season at Prairie Berry Winery!
Starting in mid-August, our crush pad comes to life as shipments of grapes from our grower partners arrive. After being heartily welcomed with cheers and applause, the grape varieties are crushed, pounded, and sent along the path of transformation into the wines our guests will soon enjoy.
Brianna grapes arrive
The first crush day of 2014 happened on August 22 with a shipment of Brianna grapes from Lewis & Clark Lake Vineyard near Yankton, SD. We’ve worked with the vineyard’s owners, Greg and Muriel Stach, for many years and their harvest made for a great kickoff to the season, complete with party hats and noise makers.
Brianna, a white wine grape, produces medium-sized clusters that mature early in the season to a greenish gold to golden bronze tone.
The Brianna grape canes at Lewis & Clark Vineyard are combed or trained twice a year and are leaf-plucked around the clusters. This allows the clusters to fully bask in the sun, which brings out Brianna’s characteristic fruity flavors. Weekly rain at Lewis & Clark Vineyard since late May led to lush and vigorous grape growth, says Greg, and was a nice turn from the past few years, which were marked by unrelenting drought.
“We had 20 pickers helping us harvest the grapes this year,” says Greg. “It rained an inch the day and night before harvest, which made for soggy conditions, but the pickers were in good cheer in spite of the heat and high humidity.”
Crush season continues
A late summer thunderstorm delayed the crushing of our Marquette grapes but, after a few pints of Miner Brewing beer, we pushed through.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather on September 3 for crushing the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that will become the next batch of 3Rednecks.
“We are excited to have the hybrid grape volumes slowly rebound from the drought,” says Sandi Vojta, Prairie Berry’s winemaker. “South Dakota has unusual challenges for grape growing and we embrace that in our winemaking style.”
As we dream of how the wine from this season’s grape harvests will taste, we also take time to celebrate our guests, supporters, and dedicated team members. Your support is what keeps the winery going and growing. Cheers and happy harvesting!