Maple River Wines from
North Dakota's Winery
A winery in North Dakota?
How did that happen? Everyone seems to ask that. Maple River Winery was registered with the Secretary of State in North Dakota on March 19, 2001. Over 10 years ago!!!! Our focus was to utilize North Dakota fruit in making traditional wines in small batches like our ancestors did. Many people have visited our winery with stories about their parents and how they would make wine. After sampling our chokecherry or rhubarb wine, every now and then we will see a tear in their eye...."This is just like my mother used to make it." is a common statement we experience. Our craftmanship and respect for our heritage has earned us numerous recognitions throughout the United States.
How did we do this?
That is not the end of the story however. North Dakota had a law saying we could MAKE wine, but in order to sell it we needed a $500 license. We talked to our Representative, Bill Pietsch, about introducing a Bill in the next legislative session and we patterned it after the Minnesota farm winery license. It passed easily in both the House and Senate, and the Governor gladly signed it into law in our presence. That picture is hanging up at the winery today in historic Downtown Casselton.
Initially, we were hoping to produce only a couple of thousand bottles of wine. We knew that North Dakota ranked 50th in the United States in wine consumption and there were no real comparisons to make in the midwest to see what potential there was. Needless to say, retailers all over North Dakota were getting requests for our wine before it was released for sale. The demand continues to grow today as we see our sales over the Internet through this website. We anticipate within 2-3 years that we will sell more wine over the Internet than we do at our tasting room. Many people visit us and then a couple of months later, they look forward to enjoying more. Besides, it is fun to see orders for North Dakota's Maple River wine being sent to Napa Valley and Sonoma County in California!! When wine is shipped out, North Dakota agricultural products are in each box. Today, we are only limited by mother nature for production. If we have a late frost in the spring or an early freeze in the fall or wet/dry conditions or even hail, we may not bring in as much fruit as we need. Hopefully, we will still be able to produce enough wine to share with all of our friends worldwide!!
What name to use?
So we know that we want to start a winery, what name do we use? We could call it Casselton Winery, or North Dakota Winery, or Greg and Susan's Winery, but none of those have a nice ring to it. Instead, the Maple River wiggles throughout rural Cass County, starting up by Hope, and then zig-zagging between Tower City and Buffalo, and then down to Enderlin before coming back north. From Enderlin, the river journies south of Chaffee and Lynchburg, north of Leonard, coming close to Casselton and then working towards Mapleton. From Mapleton it winds up north of West Fargo running into the Sheyenne River, near the Maple-Sheyenne Church. The Sheyenne River eventually runs into the Red River of the North and then up to Canada eventually to Hudson Bay. My wife and I thought that would be a great name for the winery, Maple River Winery. Every time we drive over the Maple River on I-94 between Casselton and Mapleton, I check to see if anyone puts the word "winery" under the Maple River sign. No one has yet.
What do we use to make wine with?
We worked with different people in locating fruit that we would need to produce our wine. We researched many areas throughout North Dakota and found millions of pounds of fruit growing wild. Our decision was rather than growing our own fruit, we would purchase fruit for winemaking from producers throughout North Dakota. To date, we have had over 300 people bring fruit into our winery from all 4 corners of North Dakota and some from West Central Minnesota. About 80% of our fruit comes from North Dakota. This amount is continuing to grow. While by law, we would only need 51%, we feel strongly in promoting North Dakota agriculture as much as we can.
I like Merlots, will I like your wine?
I am a big fan of big and bold red wines. Some that pop out at me include Duxoup Charbono, Seghesio Old Vines Zinfandel, and Caymus Special Selection Cabernet. What is unique is that in a room full of 15 people, everyone will have a different taste for wine that they like. Each of our wines varies in taste and body. Some wines will be drier and lighter such as our Country Crabapple or a little sweeter and heavier like our Raspberry Wine (this wine will yell the word raspberry at you), Each one has their own special uniqueness and place on the dinner table either before dinner, during dinner, or after dinner. The best thing is that everyone finds a wine that they like. Makes a trip to the winery's tasting room a fun and exciting time.
I don't live in a state where you can ship to?
We receive many calls looking for our wine. From Utah to Vermont and from Maine to Oklahoma, people call looking to purchase our wine. While we cannot ship it directly to them, we refer them to their favorite wine retailer. The wine retailer is usually able to access our wines, if not, just call us. The one wine we receive the most calls on is our Dandelion Wine. Usually, someone is just finishing up the book "Dandelion Wine' by Ray Bradbury and wants to enjoy some Dandelion Wine.....something you usually can't find in your favorite bottle shop...so they call us. This is one of our most popular wines we ship via Internet orders.
How are fruit wines made?
Our wines take roughly 6 months to a year from start to in the bottle. When the wine is bottled, it is ready to enjoy. Our fruit comes in and then we wash it. . Apples are pressed before freezing. Only the juice is used in our apple wines. The apple fiber that is left after pressing goes to feed area cattle so no part of the thousands of pounds of apples that come into our winery go to waste. We ferment for 7-10 days in stainless steel custom built tanks and then we let our wines settle out in the same tanks. We currently have 12 tanks that each hold 280 gallons and are looking at making some more. We then bottle with a 4 bottle filler and then cork each bottle with a synthetic cork. The bottle is then labelled and then distributed throughout ND to around 100 stores as well about 60 stores in Minnesota and over the Internet to 30 + states.
How is Dandelion Wine made?
We use just the yellow flower of the dandelion in making of our wine. Many places cut corners by blending a few yellow flowers with grape juice or mango juice, not here. We average about 100 yellow flowers in each 1/2 bottle of Dandelion Wine we produce. This is by far our most popular wine across the states we can ship to. We recommend a slight chill to the wine and serve it with a tossed salad with light dressing or something on a lighter side. Our Dandelion Wine has a great herbal taste to it. It is semi-dry with a lot of earthy tones in it. Enjoy as the perfect conversational piece. Order Dandelion Wine here.
Maple River Dandelion Wine YouTube Video from 5-2011. Feel free to share with your wine friends.
Maple River Dandelion Wine fermenting after dandelions have been removed. Great fermentation going on.
last updated 2/10/2014
This site maintained by Greg Kempel
for Maple River Winery.