Guest Author - Emily Guldborg
With only eight licensed wineries, the Montana wine industry is a relative newcomer to the popular winery stage. Although one of the largest states in the nation, Montana’s harsh growing conditions and isolation prevent the state from becoming widely popular for its wine. However, the wines that are produced here have a unique character, both in flavor and origin. You won’t soon forget a visit to a Montana winery or the unique variations of wine that you will find. Here is a look at a few of the wineries present in Montana:
Mission Mountain Winery
The first bonded winery in Montana, Mission Mountain offers a number of traditional grapes wines as well as some varieties of sherry, champagne and the local specialty – huckleberry wine. Like the majority of Montana wineries, Mission Mountain is located in the western part of the state on the shore of beautiful Flathead lake. While some wineries import grapes from neighboring regions (and Mission Mountain does do some of this), they do have an on-site vineyard which is a rarity in this region. The tasting room is open seasonally from May to October and their wines are available for shipment.
Rolling Hills Winery
The only winery on the eastern side of the great state of Montana, Rolling Hills is an untraditional winery in that they pride themselves on their non-grape fruit and honey wines (raspberry, rhubarb and native chokecherry). Although they operate on a small scale, their wines are becoming well known and are a treasure for the residents of northeastern Montana. Their tasting room is typically open Monday through Saturday. Call ahead for details.
Ten Spoon Winery
Located on the northern end of eclectic Missoula, Ten Spoon has been a licensed winery since 2003 and they do have an on-site vineyard located in what has come to be known as Montana’s “banana belt,” making production slightly less complicated. Keeping in line with Missoula culture, the founders of Ten Spoon are dedicated to saving open space and keeping the food chain local, wine included. They offer a number of traditional grape wines and a varietal produced from local Flathead cherries. Although they do not yet have a tasting room, their wines can be shipped to certain states and are available locally for purchase.
Check out the state’s Montana Wineries website for details and contact information on all eight licensed wineries in the state. The Montana wine industry is unique and reflects the state's can-do attitude to succeed when nature and geography might not always be on your side. And new wineries appear to be emerging. Judith Mountain Vineyard and Beauty Valley Vintners are attempting to try their hand at the winemaking business, aiming for a sustainable product that supports local producers and allow the family farm to continue on, albeit in a non-traditional way for the region.
Check out the Montana wine scene – you are guaranteed to sample some wines with spunk, character and an overwhelming presence that will leave you a changed connoisseur.