Growing grapes in South Dakota is not something we might think about.

Oh, sure, there are vineyards in our area and throughout the state, and the wine they make is good. But what if you're  not opening a vineyard? It turns out you could still grow some grapes, for whatever reason.

Now, the farm I grew up on in northern McCook County had a grapevine that flourished for 50 to 60 years, right up until shortly before my parents left the farm in the mid-1990s. A couple of my uncles were really good with growing things--in fact one of them, J.D. Hetland, was known for his landscaping in Sioux Falls for many years. They were the ones who, I was told, planted the grapes in the 1930s.

Every fall my dad would prune the grapevine, and every summer it would be loaded with grapes. Really, really tart grapes. Did I mention they were tart?

My mother made jelly and juice from them, but they required a lot of sweetening. Lots and lots of sweetening.

A South Dakota State University Extension Horticulture Specialist, Rhoda Burrows, says many varieties of grapes grow well in our climate, and they can be used to make juice, jam, jellies and wine.

Burrows lists such varieties as Valiant, Marquette, Frontenac and LaCrescent, among others, that can do well if the conditions are right.

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