Hometown Farmer: Valiant Vineyards
VERMILLION, SD —
You'll find Eldon Nygaard outside on nice spring and summer days, tending to his grapes.
He's President of Valiant Vineyards, South Dakota's very first winery.
"It was a hobby that just got out of control," said Nygaard.
Eldon's passion for wine started back when he was 16 as part of a school experiment, and the Vietnam veteran never thought his passion would turn into what it has become.
"In Vietnam I never thought I was going to make it back alive," said Nygaard. "I really didn't have many thoughts towards the future rather than making it home."
Valiant Vineyards opened in 1996.
"We've made probably 10 million dollars worth of wine since we started," said Nygaard.
When you take a look inside, you'll see just how high tech this old school profession can be.
But you still need some of that old technology.
For aging, there's nothing better than a good old barrel.
"These are used Kentucky Bourbon barrels," pointing to an old barrel in the storage room. "And there's rum in here, been in here for four years."
Soon the wine in some of those barrels will be transferred into bottles.
The perfect place to store those award winning wines.
They don't only sell in South Dakota, but across the world.
"We also have rhubarb and strawberry and sometimes we've made apple wine," said Nygaard. "We also make wine from South Dakota honey and Black Current."
Eldon Nygaard's successfully transformed a few South Dakota fields into the state's first winery.
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