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MILES City — When you believe of the ideal wine locations in the environment, your intellect may wander to Tuscany, Bordeaux or Napa.

With enthusiasm and the fruits of labor, 1 Miles Town wine maker is determined to increase Montana to that checklist of wine greats.

Wine making started off as a pastime for Bob Thaden when he was only 18.

“It was authorized at 18 back again then, 56 years ago, and not for the reason that I liked alcohol but due to the fact there was so much fruit going to squander again in Minnesota with all the rain they had. My wife, girlfriend at the time, she and I made heaps of jam and jelly and canned fruit and there was nevertheless fruit leftover, so I begun generating wine. First batches were being horrible, but I’ve uncovered a whole lot in the very last 55 decades.”

And there’s anything poetic about a winemaker whose lifestyle and vocation has been invested as a pastor.

“I am a United Church of Christ pastor and there is a particular spirituality to that.”

Bob and his spouse, Marilyn, moved to Miles Town from Broadus around 30 many years ago.

The few planted their first crops in 2004, hoping to have a experienced orchard and winery ripe for winemaking by the time they retired.

But the very hot, dry summers and water from the Tongue River yielded wonderful crops and sped up the options for the Tongue River Vineyard.

“We opened up October 1st, 2010. Due to the fact that time, we’ve sold more than $1 million well worth of wine, someplace all around 85,000 bottles. By California standards that’s teeny. They do that much in a weekend at the large wineries. But for Japanese Montana, we’re the only vineyard with a winery east of Missoula.”

Now the president of the Montana Grape and Vineyard Association, Thaden has staunch concepts in making Montana wines.

“On my web-site for the vineyard, I say specifically we only use fruit that will mature in Montana. We really do not use any fruit that is introduced in from California, Washington, or Mars. It is all fruit that we mature in Montana. Not quite a few wineries are doing that and I feel additional of them should really.”

“Why drink California wine in Montana? Let’s consume Montana wine in Montana. And that’s why 1 of our mottos is, ‘If it won’t improve in this article we will not ferment it,’ mainly because we want to make Montana wine in Montana.”

Thaden grows a hybrid range of grapes that have the genetics of wild grapes, vitis riparia, that are indigenous to Montana and can endure our cold temperatures.

“Native Montana grapes crossed with the European grapes like Taxi, Riesling, Merlot, Shiraz, and so forth, and that provides them their heartiness. The wild grapes are hearty to additional than -50.”

Thaden states if the appropriate fruits are planted, Montana, particularly the hot stretches of Central and Jap Montana, can come to be wine-building titans.

“I want to see much more wineries in Montana and in particular in southeast Montana. So if there are persons out there on the northside of the Yellowstone on a south-facing slope with drinking water rights that have 5 or 10 acres that they would love to switch into a vineyard, they ought to seriously look at that simply because it could definitely be a powerful, new route for the wine market in Montana.”

Thaden’s wines are now proving his place by inserting in wine-creating competitions. The feather in the cap for the Tongue River Winery is the award of a Jefferson Cup for their 2017 Marquette Wine.

“A Jefferson Cup is a ‘best in show’ type of cup. This is the only Jefferson Cup won so far by any winery in Montana and the only one particular throughout the whole of the United States for a Marquette wine. There’s likely 600 wineries that make Marquette and we own the only Jefferson Cup for a Marquette, so we’re pretty very pleased of that.”