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Frequently Asked Questions
Want to know before you go? Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about visiting.
Visiting The Winery
Do I need to make reservations?
Wine tastings are available by walk-in only Monday – Thursday. Reserve your weekend wine tasting online or by calling 877.226.9453. Walk-in tastings are limited and not guaranteed on the weekends.
Can I bring a large group for a tasting?
Currently, no. Due to a smaller capacity during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, we will be limiting group sizes to eight people per tasting in order to maintain social distancing and minimize health risks to our staff and guests. If you will be visiting the area in a group of more than eight and wish to do a wine tasting, please plan accordingly when making your reservations.
Please note: Children over 12 months old count toward the eight-person limit in a reservation.
How much does a tasting cost?
Can I bring my kids?
Absolutely. We are very kid-friendly, just like the rest of the Black Hills. Please note: Children count towards our eight-person limit for wine tastings, so please plan accordingly when making your wine tasting reservations.
What are your hours?
We are open daily, year-round. The only exceptions are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter Sunday. Our hours are extended during the summer and early fall.
We offer wine tastings by reservation only. Reservations are available from the time the winery opens until half an hour before the Tasting Room closes for the night.
When is a good time to visit?
Anytime! We are open year-round, and the Black Hills are always beautiful.
Our busiest time is between 1 and 3 p.m. during the summer. For a more laid-back experience, join us earlier or later in the day, or come see how wondrous winter in the Black Hills can be.
Is there a dress code?
We host everyone from formal wedding parties to leather-clad bikers…sometimes at the same time. We want you to be comfortable, relax, and enjoy yourself.
Do you give tours?
Since our winery is in production year-round, we are unable to offer tours, however we occasionally offer guests glimpses into our production area as part of special events.
Are there hotels nearby?
Yes. Hill City offers a variety of lodging options, from bed and breakfasts to cabins, campgrounds and hotels.
The Hill City Chamber of Commerce offers a listing of the options in Hill City.
Can I bring my well-behaved pets?
Sorry, our health codes stipulate that we can allow only service animals inside the winery. However, well-behaved dogs are welcome to join their owners on the patio.
Ordering, Shipping, and Traveling With Wine
Where can I buy your wine?
Can you ship wine to me?
The easy answer is “it depends.” We can ship to many states, but we recommend checking our shipping page before you get your heart set on ordering some wine to be shipped.
How much does it cost to ship wine?
Again, it depends. It depends on how much wine you’re shipping, and to where. Our wine club members get $12 flat-rate shipping no matter how much wine they ship.
Can I take wine on an airplane?
You can check wine, but you cannot carry it on. We can help you wrap the wine to improve your odds of getting home with the wine still in the bottle, but we recommend you ship the wine if possible.
How many bottles of wine can I take back to Canada?
According to the Canada Border Services Agency, you are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes:
- 1.5 liters (that’s two, standard 750-mL bottles or 53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
- a total of 1.14 liters (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
- up to 8.5 liters of beer or ale.
These limits are per person over the age of 21.
Can I keep wine in my car?
Beyond getting it from point A to point B, no.
We encourage people to treat wine like you would treat a beloved pet: Don’t leave it in a car that’s too hot or too cold. When you are done traveling for the day, take the wine into your lodging with you.
When wine gets above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it begins to deteriorate. That can happen quickly in a car on a hot day.
Where is your wine made?
Right here, in our family-owned winery in the Black Hills of South Dakota, just a few miles from Mount Rushmore. Our Tasting Room counter is just feet from where the fruit is pressed, the juice fermented, and the wine aged.
Where do you get your fruit and grapes?
We get many of our grapes from Lewis & Clark Vineyards near Yankton, S.D. Some grapes—like Chardonnay and Zinfandel—won’t grow in South Dakota’s climate, so we buy those from more temperate areas, like California, New York, and the Pacific Northwest.
Our wild fruit, like chokecherries, buffaloberries, wild grapes, and wild plums are hand-picked in South Dakota. Our pickers know where and when to find the fruit.
Other fruit, like rhubarb and raspberries, come from various sources. Some of our fruit sources are determined by who has the fruit we need when we need it. Untimely frost or flooding conditions can send us looking for new sources.
How do you come up with the names?
All our wines are named by our winemaker, Sandi and her family. The stories behind the names are sometimes funny, sometimes obvious. (You can probably figure out where we got the name for Wild Plum.)
How do you make your wine taste so good?
Practice and perfection. Sandi and her production staff are very aware of the necessity of both in making great wine.
Oh yeah, and Mother Nature. She makes some pretty great grapes. And raspberries. And rhubarb. And chokecherries…you get the idea.
The best part is that the fruit is never the same two years in a row. That keeps us from getting bored.
Are there sulfites in your wine?
Yes, we do add very small amounts of sulfites to our wines, but they are also a natural byproduct of the winemaking process even when they are not added.
Here’s an article with more information about sulfites—in summary, they probably don’t cause that red wine headache.
Is your wine gluten-free?
To the best of our knowledge, most of our wines are gluten-free.
However, we don’t test for gluten, so we aren’t comfortable labeling as gluten-free. Some of our oaked red wines may contain gluten from a wheat paste that is used to seal the heads of the barrel.
Do you do customized wine labels?
We are not set up to create customized wine labels.
Do you use organic fruit?
One of our priorities is to create a high-quality, sustainable product for our customers, so we use only fruit that meets our stringent criteria for quality.
Our growers are not certified organic, but do work very hard to produce a product with minimal impact on the surrounding environment.
Much of our fruit grows wild and thrives in the conditions that naturally exist—no fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, fungicide, or anything else that doesn’t fall from the sky or live in the ground.
Do you use any animal products in your wine?
No, we don’t add any animal products to our wines.
I’ve had this kind of wine before, but this tastes different. Why?
Winemaking is an art. Hand an artist three colors of paint and tell her to paint the same thing three times and you’ll get three different results.
Sugar content and acid content can vary from year to year depending on the location and growing conditions, and Sandi must consider all these factors before working with each season’s fruit.
For instance, if the temperature, soil, or precipitation varies from year to year, the fruit or grapes can take on a very different character.
Our wines, especially the wines made from South Dakota-grown grapes, are created to best showcase the unique features of that year’s harvest and may have the same name but be a completely different style of wine.
Why don’t you have [name of favorite wine]?
Our production capacity is limited and we make a lot of different wines for a lot of different palates. We make as much of a wine as we have the space, fruit, and demand for, but we do sell out of most of our wines before we get more made.
We apologize for the inconvenience this causes, but it gives you the opportunity to try something new. Who knows? You may find a new favorite.
What food would be good with this wine?
Our pairing suggestions are listed on the individual wine pages.
Our Tasting Room associates can also suggest pairings for our wines, both from our Kitchen and for you to prepare at home.
I don’t have an alcohol license, but I want to serve your wine at my business. Is this legal?
The state law prohibits you from serving liquor, liqueurs, or cordials (like vodka or gin) without an alcohol license.
You may be able to occasionally serve wine, Champagne, or malt beverages, (for example at an open house) provided you meet the following stipulations and requirements:
- There is no charge for the alcohol.
- There is no money exchanged for the event.
- You do not make any profit from the alcohol.
- You do not serve anyone under the age of 21.
Your local ordinances may prohibit serving alcohol without a license, so check with your local governing entity.
(Please don’t consider this legal advice. We’re winemakers. Laws can change, so check with your attorney or the state/local laws before planning this type of event.)