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When picturing North Dakota farming, sprawling fields of crops or quaint dairy farms probably come to mind. But did you know that grape vineyards also thrive in this region?

Among the oldest is Red Trail Vineyard, just 30 miles from Fargo in Buffalo. With its delicious wines, family-style Friday night suppers and spacious RV park, visitors from around the globe flock to this scenic destination.

The start
Red Trail Vineyard was started by Rodney and Susan Hogen. It’s named after the historically significant Old Red Trail, one of the first established routes for automobile travel through the northern part of the United States.

In the spring of 2003, Rodney decided to plant 1,000 grapevines to give winemaking a try. Unfortunately, grapes that can survive our harsh winters are in limited production, and Rodney learned that most vineyards requesting cold-climate grapes had placed their orders for vines the previous autumn.

Instead of securing the 1,000 vines he had initially planned, Rodney could only plant 120 vines of two different varieties. That first year, the vines were nurtured and began to thrive.

The following year, Rodney was able to plant another 900 vines, adding eight more varieties to their collection.

As the vineyard began to flourish, curious visitors flocked to the Hogen farmstead to witness the excitement. Recognizing the need for a gathering space, a 100-year-old granary/bunkhouse was discovered near Casselton and relocated to the vineyard’s foundation in 2004.

With the structure relocated to the vineyard’s foundation, work began right away to transform it into a tasting room. It was later discovered this building came from a site along the Old Red Trail – a fitting detail considering the vineyard’s name. Cass County Electric Cooperative energized the site in September 2004, and in 2005, Red Trail Vineyard’s tasting room was complete.

They celebrated with an official grand opening, and prominent guests such as the North Dakota agriculture commissioner, the former first lady of North Dakota, and city of Buffalo officials delivered speeches, marking the occasion. The community’s presence added to the celebration, and the tasting room was officially brought to life.

A tasteful success 
In the following years, more varieties of grapes were planted, and the second phase of the business was well underway and proving successful. Tours of the vineyard occurred every week, and meetings and events were also hosted at the vineyard’s site. In 2006, they hosted the first annual North Dakota Wine and Grape Harvest Festival. This event helped promote and celebrate the North Dakota wine and grape industry and featured various activities, along with tours of the vineyard and grape stomping.

After expanding into events and hosting, the kitchen in the tasting room was commercially approved, so meals could be prepared at the vineyard for tours and events. Soon, the Hogens started the Friday Nite Supper Series.

This one-of-a-kind event features a family-style supper that brings people together and has received rave reviews from attendees. The reputation proceeds as the reservation-only suppers are typically booked two weeks in advance.

You can find more information about the Friday Nite Supper Series on the Red Trail Vineyard Facebook page and website, including the schedule of suppers and reservation information.

Room to stay
Along with tours, a tasting room, and supper, Red Trail Vineyard has long been a place for travelers to rest for a night on the way to their destination. They have been with Harvest Hosts for many years, an organization that provides members with overnight accommodation with no camping fees in beautiful and quiet places across North America. In return, they are asked to make a purchase to support the small business that hosts them. During this time, people stayed in the parking lot of Red Trail Vineyard.

“We would get visitors from all over the country,” Rodney remarked. “We would even get people from real close who just wanted to get away for the night and attend one of our suppers.”

When they first started with Harvest Hosts, the vineyard would average about five guests a year. In 2019, that all changed.

“Since 2019, it kind of exploded.” Rodney said.

In 2019, the vineyard had about 50 people stay throughout the year. Then, in 2020, things started to take off. Through that year, around 150 people booked a stay at the Red Trail Vineyard through Harvest Hosts. At this point, the vineyard still had no RV park for guests, who would instead park in the parking lot for the night.

In 2021, when the RV travelers continued to come, the Hogens started to consider putting in an official RV park. So, in 2022, the work began to build the Red Trail Vineyard RV Park. In July 2022, CCEC energized the site, and the park was open to visitors in the fall. Since opening, there has been no shortage of visitors.

“We’re in a unique spot,” Rodney said. “We’re close to the interstate and halfway between Minneapolis and Medora. Even people traveling to Canada will make a stop here.”

Whether the convenient location, delicious wine, or beautiful tours are drawing visitors, there is no doubt that Red Trail Vineyard is worth the stop.

Red Trail Vineyard is open from May 14-Oct. 14, 2023. Their hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 p.m.. If a weekend visit doesn’t fit your schedule, you can make a weekday appointment by phone.

Red Trail Vineyard also offers space for you to host your next event! From birthday parties to corporate events, they can provide room, food, and, of course, wine.

Click here for more information on tours, events, and RV park booking.


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