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Jim and Nancy Schade at their Volga vineyard.
Jim and Nancy Schade at their Volga vineyard.

Fruit of the Volga Vine

As a boy, Jim Schade liked a little piece of land near his family farm west of Volga. When he and his wife Nancy toured California’s Napa Valley, they decided that 80-acre spot back in South Dakota would be perfect for a winery.

They moved from Pierre to Volga and started Schade Vineyards in 2000, pioneering a fledgling industry that mixes agriculture, tourism and mail-order marketing. “Our greatest challenge is figuring out not only how to grow our own business but how to grow the industry,” Nancy said. 

They raise much of their own fruits — grapes, berries, plums and rhubarb — but they also buy from farmers and gardeners in the region. Along with winemaking and cultivating the crops, they’re learning lobbying. South Dakota’s liquor laws are among the tightest in the nation. Wineries here can mail order bottles to 49 states, but not to South Dakota customers. The state’s 14 wineries hope to change that law because mail-order trade creates a holiday market.

Wine Business Monthly reported that South Dakota had the nation’s fastest-growing wine industry — partly because it came out of nowhere, and also because entrepreneurs like the Schades are leading the way.

Editor's Note: This story is revised from the September/October 2007 issue of South Dakota Magazine. To order a copy or to subscribe, call 800-456-5117.

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