OUR PHILOSOPHY: Tongue River Winery and the Thaden family are committed to making wine out of local or regionally grown fruits. The vineyard is a testimony to grape varieties which can stand our very cold/very hot climate!
The wines that most people are accustomed to hearing about — Merlot, Cabernet, Riesling, Shiraz, to name a few — are made from European grapes which would die to the ground at 0° F at best. We'd never get a crop.
Our grapes on the other hand — Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Frontenac Blanc and La Crescent— are hybrid crosses of European and wild native American grapes, which can tolerate temperatures from -25°F all the way to -45°F and come up smiling the next year most of the time! We've found Marquette, Petite Pearl and Crimson Pearl to be "iffy" at our place. We're trying out experimental unnamed grape cultivars from NDSU. In addition, we use our common prairie fruits (apples, plums, cherries, raspberries, currants, rosehips, edible honeysuckle) to add to our roster of delicious and unusual wines.
Photo at Left: Our haskaps (edible honeysuckle), for example, are hardy to -50°F and produce a lovely semi-sweet wine reminiscent of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
While most other wineries in the Upper Midwest import at least some of their grapes from the west coast, we limit our offerings to wine make with Montana fruit or adjacent states. You may see that some of our wines use fruit from North Dakota, South Dakota or Wyoming; this helps their fledgling grape-growing industries and helps us to be sure we have enough of some of your favorite Tongue River wines. Our slogan can be found on almost all of our labels:
"Fruit exclusively from the Northern Plains."