News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vino veritas

When Eldon Nygaard suddenly defected from the Democratic Party after winning his seat in the South Dakota Senate on the Democratic ticket and receiving $1,500 from his county party but losing in efforts within the caucus to gain a leadership post, many people felt betrayed and bilked.  And they said so.  But what also came out in the remarks was the matter of the wine he produces in Vermillion at his Valiant Vineyards. 

Democratic organizations patronized his winery out of a kind of partisan loyalty and while comments were made about the quality of the wine, they were muted.  Well, they ain't no more in sommelier land. 

I have attended events in Aberdeen, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls where the Valiant Vineyards wine was featured at dinner events.  I remember in particular one in Aberdeen, where the event emphasized the fact that the food and drink had South Dakota origins.  I was sitting at a table among friends who are unabashed wine snobs.  They take a first sip of their wine and say things like, it has a hint of raspberry with the delicate aroma of ocelot  urine, or the dryness is not as abrasive as an emery board but not as slick as  crankcase oil, or my god how much is this a bottle?  Sometimes they say genteel things like, get this fucking shit away from my nose.  But not very often.  I never once  heard them say anything like that about Valiant Vineyards wine.

On that night I remember in particular they said nothing as they took up their glass of Valiant Vineyards produce.  They didn't need to.  They would generally take a sip, then gently push their glass away to the center of the table.  Or they would sip and roll their eyes at someone across the table who had also sipped.  But I remember an exchange between a woman who owned and ran an upscale bed-and-breakfast with her husband.  She asked him to go to the cash bar and get something decent to cleanse her palate.  He said, what do you think is decent?  She said, Lysol.  

The social network Facebook was particularly rife with tasters' assessments of Valiant Vineyards.  Most of them were in the vein of thank god we don't have to fake gustatory orgasms over that locally aborted fermentation any more.  And the thought interjected an element of glee into the election drubbing and the defection.  

Democrats are uplifted and titillated at the idea of Republicans drinking that wine.

Life can be cruel. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States