Hello wine friends,
Just to clarify what we hope to do, we planted 70 wine grapevines last spring here in Miles City, and will be planting 600 more this April, 2005. We will be planting approximately a dozen varieties, including some table grapes for juice, just plain eating, and jelly. Of the wine grapes, you probably haven't heard of any of them other than chardonnay and riesling, both of which we will literally need to bury under about a foot of dirt every fall to keep them alive in the winter.
As it turns out, we have a slightly better climate than Yakima, WA in the summer, so if we can keep things alive in the winter, we should be able to produce a very good wine.
We plan on producing mostly dry wines (red and white) but also a very nice off-dry (semi-sweet, like a Chablis) white wine which has a very recognizable apricot finish. We will also produce a sweet blackberry dessert wine that won rave reviews in Butte where we began making it three years ago.
With a bit o' luck, we'll be licensed this fall, with our first products available in the Spring of 2006. I will probably also consider teaching winemaking classes for those interested in trying out their own hand at making wine.
Interested folks are welcome to drive out to our place (same place we used to live near the end of Sunset Drive)and see the beginnings of our vineyard. Only 4 half-rows are planted, but the basic trellissing for the next 600 vines is in place. We are hoping to have a wee bit of juice this fall so we can at least have a trial of the grapes we planted last spring. They say you get about a half crop in the third year, and from the 4th year onward, grapes pretty well are established and you can take full crops. They really take about 10 years to achieve optimal production.
The other thing we're planning on is to gradually begin a commercial truck gardening operation to provide organically grown vegies, fruits and herbs to the greater Miles City area.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions.
Bob Thaden, from Tongue River Vineyard and Gardens