When Don South..owner of Strawbale Winery just west of Renner.. called recently inviting me and the Misses to go for a nighttime helicopter ride over the city of Sioux Falls to see the lights, my first thought was.. is the helicopter big enough to safely lift my ample body aloft? My second was, could I ever convince Linda with her genuine terrifying fear of heights to ever climb aboard?
These questions persisted in my mind as Don and his lovely wife, Susie, treated us and other invited guests to delicious wine cider and appetizers in the tasting house.
You can read all about how Strawbale Winery was so named by checking out their website. www.strawbalewinery.com
Linda and I just love that place and don’t get out there often enough. It’s a delightful diversion in the summertime when on Thursdays and Sundays you’ll find musicians performing on the specially built stage at one end of the sprawling green grass farmyard where cats and Bantam chickens roam free intermingling with visitors lazily lounging in Adirondack chairs sipping wine and soaking up the sunshine. Thousands showed up this past summer for a concert by the Red Willow Band.
The winery is a perfect location for weddings and other special occasions..but when Don and Susie see an opportunity to offer something a bit out of the ordinary..they go for it. For example, a couple years ago when they learned that the annual Rib Fest in Sioux Falls was closed to local rib joints…they started a festival of their own.
In late July, Strawbale is now home to “Folk Off and Rib Challenge” which features ONLY local BBQ vendors in competition to have their slow cooked recipes judged best by the public. That plus a dozen folk bands performing on stage throughout the day with money raised to help the Friends of Old Time Music and the Boy’s and Girl’s clubs and, well, it’s an experience to savor.
Then, about four years ago, The Souths decided one way to let folks know there are fun things at the winery in wintertime too would be to offer “Twilight Flights” during the three weeks leading up to Christmas.
First, there’s hor’douvres and wine tasting followed by a helicopter flight from the winery to downtown Sioux Falls to view the lights of the city and the “Falls Park Winter Wonderland” returning to the winery for desserts and dessert wines.
As Linda and I prepared to board the chopper for our “Twilight Flight” Pilot Bob didn’t seem a bit concerned about whether or not his little chopper could handle the load and we lifted off to what would be one of the most delightful and memorable half hours ever.
Many thanks to Don and Susie South..not only for the ride..but for all the hard work it takes to provide such creative and entertaining diversions for the good folks of Keloland.