FARGO - The harvest is done at Bear Creek Winery and it's time to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
This year, however, oenophiles of all stripes can join in.
The south Fargo winery, which uses grapes hybridized to survive North Dakota's harsh winters, will open its tasting room to the general public for the first time, starting at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5., Vineyard Manager Sean Ballinger said.
The winery, established by Rod and Sue Ballinger, has 2,000 vines and produces about 800 to 1,000 gallons of wine, including "Sheyenne," a dry, white blend reminiscent of a chardonnay, and "Old Truck," a medium-bodied dry, red wine, similar to a cabernet sauvignon, Sean Ballinger said.
"We've been able to make fine wine," Sean Ballinger said Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Until this year, the family has focused on hosting private events, such as weddings and groom's dinners, Rod Ballinger said.
"It's a pretty big shift for the company," Sean Ballinger said.
When the winery began selling wine in 2003, the product was made from other fruits. Now, the wines are made primarily from grapes grown on their land, Rod Ballinger said.
The indoor tasting room can hold about 100 people in comfort, though if the weather is good, another 100 can be accommodated outside. Tastings will be Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 5 p.m. throughout October and November, though tastings could be extended into December, Rod Ballinger said.
The wine tastings are free. Bottles can be purchased for $16 to $18 per bottle, Sean Ballinger said.
The winery is at 8800 25th St. S., about a mile and a half south of Davies High School.
"We have no idea what to expect" of the public tastings, Sean Ballinger said. "Hopefully a lot (of wine enthusiasts) show up.
The North Dakota Grape and Wine Association lists 14 member wineries in the state on its website.