Last fall, a local friend shared a map of the Black Hills that outlined the numerous wineries and breweries in the Black Hills. I immediately sent it to a couple of my Montana girl friends as the Black Hills are about 1/2 way between Billings and Brookings. There was no question in Chris’ mind. This was going to happen!
We began by looking for a place to stay and talking about it with some of the women from Billings. We settled on late April date, late in the spring so the weather should be nice but before tourist season. We looked at some rental cabins and the various wineries we wanted to go to. In February, we confirmed the attendees (4 total) and decided to go with a hotel that we found a great deal on. Then, the countdown!
We stuck to Hill City (4 wineries) and Rapid City for this trip, though we did end up going to Sturgis to hit one last winery as we had time. Traffic was light. The weather was fantastic.
Our first evening, we visited 3 wineries: Stone Faces, Twisted Pine Winery & Tasting Room and Naked Winery in a little under 2.5 hours! Stone Faces was definitely our favorite. We had the place almost to ourselves. My top favorite wine of the weekend was at Stone Faces: a Merlot called Menopause. I haven’t had many merlots lately so I was a bit surprised at how delicious this wine is. I’m not staying away from merlots, but this was very very yummy!
We enjoyed a great meal at Bumpin Buffalo. The Buffalo burger was tasty and after so many tastes of wine, the French fries really hit the spot! They have a beautiful old bar, which reminded us all of a restaurant in Red Lodge MT. These bars must have been popular back in the day, as the restaurant had a framed copy of the catalog page.
Full of food & wine, we lounged around Friday evening and all fell asleep early!! We are party animals.
Saturday, we got up & going in time to have breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to Mount Rushmore. This allowed us to kill a little time while waiting for the wineries to open and not look like a bunch of lushes by drinking wine around 10 a.m.
We visited 3 wineries on Saturday, a cigar shop and a brewery (where we ate lunch rather than tried the beer). We started at Prairie Berry (and as they have a Eastern SD location, I signed up for the wine club!), then headed to Rapid City. Lunch was at the Firehouse Brewing Company [I had a yummy Gorgonzola Ale soup!] and next door was the Firehouse Winery where we had my 2nd 2 favorite wines: Damn Few, a Gewurtzraminer [decided to get this one as I haven’t had a Gewurtzraminer in a LONG time!] and the Oaked Chardonnay which was like drinking a campfire, in a good way! I was also sure to ask if these wines were available on the east side of the state so I didn’t feel like I had to purchase too many.
We did a little extra shopping by swinging by the Tinder Box so Chris & Liz could purchase some gifts for their husbands (and I probably should have gotten Rocky one), a trip to Smith’s Liquor Gallery – great selection, but smaller than we expected — Chris was able to find Brian a peanut butter porter.
We headed a bit north to visit Belle Joli‘s Sparkling House in Sturgis. It was a beautiful location with great wines – though the most expensive wines we had. The spot was so lovely that a bunch of local high schoolers chose it as the location for their prom dinner. It was fun to see the kids coming in all dressed up, even if it made us feel a little old …
We had dinner back in Rapid City at Minerva’s and then back to the hotel for some sparking wine floats (with some SDSU Dairy Bar Chocolate — super yummy! Be sure to have a big glass & fill 1/2 with ice cream and then cover with sparkling wine). We had all brought a lot of food, but after all the wine & great food, we weren’t that hungry. We spent time giggling over the amount of wine in our room (47 bottles) and enjoy each other’s company.
It was such a blessing to be able to spend time with these women that I got to know and love through our Billings, MT church. It was as if no time had passed, we were all as comfortable as if we still saw each other every Sunday. This is true friendship and a true blessing. This will be an annual event and I look forward to it continuing and hopefully growing with other women from FMUC!