The Evolution of Tongue River Vineyard and Winery
Tongue River Vineyard, approximately 3 acres in size, is the only commercial winery with a vineyard in Montana east of Missoula. Our first grapes were planted in 2004 and we plant some every year. Our half-century of gardening has helped in the vineyard, and Bob's half century of winemaking has helped in the winery. We grow mostly University of Minnesota grape varieties, but are experimenting with others (particularly NDSU experimental varieties) that might prove hardy enough for our northern climate.
We are proud and active members of the North Dakota Grape and Wine Association, and also founding members of the Montana Grape and Wine Association and the South Dakota small fruit listserv. We purchase some fruit from North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming to supplement what we are able to find in Montana.
We also grow apples, pears, cherries, raspberries, yellow chokecherries and other fruits. We opened for business in October of 2010 and produce approximately 2000 gallons of wine yearly— red and white, sweet and dry, grape and fruit wines and unusual blends. In 2013 we picked our first crop of haskaps (edible honeysuckle fruit) and Carmine Jewel cherries. Both were developed at the University of Saskatchewan, are 5-6 foot shrubs when mature, and are hardy to -50°F!
In 2019 we bought the neighboring property and planted 500 more vines and will plant Aronia in 2020. Southeast Montana is the garden spot of Montana, with more hot days and higher temperatures than anywhere else in the area. Consequently, if we can keep it alive in winter, we can ripen it easier than anywhere else in the state. Although our offerings change somewhat from year to year, we always produce good wine with what we have!
As a small, family-operated business, we have no SET business hours, but are open for you almost any day, any time, when you find one of us by cellphone. We are busy pruning, mowing, training, planting, harvesting in the vineyard and garden and high tunnels, and fermenting, blending, evaluating, bottling and labeling in the winery and taking care of business in the office. SO PLEASE DO CALL if you wish to visit us! We are eager to accomodate you. See our contact page for how to reach us.