Valiant Vineyards Winery is South Dakota's first and therefore oldest and most emotionally mature winery. Located on the Vermillion River overlooking the Missouri River, the winery is a shrunken head's throw from downtown Vermillion. With ten tastes included in each ticket, visiting palates can sample a collection of South Dakota-made wine and spirits while live music serenades each sip and swish. Your body's secondary mouths, the feet, will also get to assist in the miracle of wine birth by joining in the fun of crushing nature's round juice containers during the grape stomp. Plenty of food vendors stand ready to pair your wine samples with a plethora of delicious foods. Guest chefs, meanwhile, will teach you how to prepare sangria and other surprise edibles during a series of cooking demonstrations. You can even get your picture on a bottle of wine to see if your vinogenic good looks outshine Paul Sorvino's pasta sauce. On Sunday, amateur winemakers will compete for a number of laurels in a dozen categories, although none will be wine-based Double Dare physical challenges. See the full festival schedule here.
In 2000, a group of farmers decided to diversify their crop production by planting twirling wine grapes into the rolling Midwestern hills. The initial smattering of vines quickly grew into a 4-acre vineyard and led to the launch of Silver Hills Vineyards & Winery, a small operation intent on crafting 100% Nebraska wines. The vintners’ Midwestern pride can be seen in their choice of ingredients—all wines are made with fruit grown at local vineyards and tattooed with the state motto—as well as their choice of decor: the outdoor tasting deck is shaped like Nebraska.
Silver Hills produces red, white, rosé, and berry wines, which visitors can sample during the vineyards’ limited hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Bottle labels display woodcuts by John Schirmer, a resident of neighboring Iowa who has carved wood professionally for more than 35 years.
Trent Meyer and Derek Bergman are committed members of the United Methodist Church, and sometimes choose to practice their faith through tree climbing, zip lining, swimming, and laser tag. They direct the Methodist-run Camp Fontanelle, a year-round outdoor camp sprawled across more than 180 wooded acres of donated land. Both Trent and Derek draw from backgrounds as campers—and Trent from six years as a teacher—to lead summer camps for preschool through high-school students. They lead a team of camp counselors who coordinate harnessed-rope tree climbing, activities on low-ropes courses, archery lessons, and outdoor laser-tag matches.
They also draw visitors at different times of year with water slides, a 35'x65' jumping pillow and bounce houses, a petting barn filled with alpacas and goats, and pony rides. During the autumn-harvest season, they unveil the annual theme of a 10-acre corn maze filled with 5 miles of trails. A 3-acre pumpkin patch contains small and large carving pumpkins, gourds, mums, and Indian corn, which visitors can harvest and stuff into a large, horn-shaped wicker basket.