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"Five generations ago, Anna Pesa Vojta and her husband Jon emigrated from   
Czechoslovakia to homestead near Mound City, Dakota Territory. Life on the prairie  
was harsh. The wine Anna made from native grapes and "prairie berries" and served in
heirloom crystal glasses was one of their few reminders of refinement.
Today our winemaker, Anna's great-great-granddaughter, Sandi Vojta, embraces the
flavor, color, and aroma of those same berries, grapes, and honey. Her wines are 
still a taste of refinement and a reminder of our rich South Dakota heritage."
~ from the Prairie Berry Winery brochure
(Bike ride continued from the previous page.)

At the west end of the lake we turned right onto a narrow paved road that loops around the south and east sides of the lake:





We stopped to admire the view from the parking area next to a handsome wooden bridge over the spillway. It was built with Douglas fir by the South Dakota National Guard in 1988 to replace the original bridge built in 1937 by the CCC:



 Jim rides around the eastern end of Stockade Lake.

Our final mile around the north side of the lake was on the wide shoulder of US 16A, which was shorter than retracing our route around the eastern and southern part of the lake:

There is a wide shoulder on US 16A past one of the entrances to Custer State Park.

I saw only a couple hikers and one other cyclist besides Jim on the Mickelson Trail in the 19 miles between Hill City and Custer on my way south. I'm sure there are more on weekends and during the summer. There were more people at the stockade parking area where Jim started and we both ended.

Only one vehicle was on the narrow paved road around three sides of te lake. We picked a good day to ride there.

That road is inside Custer State Park but the parking area for the Gordon Stockade is outside the gate on US 16A. Cyclists and drivers can probably go around the lake CCW without paying a fee if they go the direction we did. It didn't matter to us which way we went because our park pass is still valid for a few more days.


We stopped riding at the parking area at the west end of Stockade Lake where Jim parked the truck. After we put our bikes in the truck we took a tour of the Gordon Stockade replica.

The 1868 Laramie Treaty between the Plains Indians chiefs and the U.S. government in 1868 was mentioned at the beginning of this entry (page 1). Here's a map from an interpretive panel at the site of the stockade that shows the huge territory encompassing parts of five states that was (temporarily) "given" to the Native Americans:

As you can see, the Black Hills are smack dab in the middle of those millions of acres.

The treaty was signed six years before Custer's expedition discovered gold in them thar Hills. Thousands of hopeful gold-seekers invaded the territory from 1874-76, including the Gordon Party that built a stockade in this location at the western end of the lake.

None of them were legally allowed in Great Sioux Reservation territory so the U.S. Army was busy running the invaders out to honor the treaty with the various Indian tribes who inhabited the area.

The folks from Iowa who built the stockade were forced to leave after only five months. They didn't have much luck finding gold during that short time but some of the men remained in the area, continuing to try their luck.


This is the third replica that has been built to commemorate this turbulent historical period in the Black Hills.

There is no entry fee and visitors are "free" to wander around inside the stockade. I think there are period re-creators on-site during the summer but none were there today.


On the way back home we stopped at the Prairie Berry Winery on US 16 a bit northeast of Hill City. There are two other tasting rooms nearby but Prairie Berry looked the most interesting to me.

It must be very popular with other people because it was busy!

Although we weren't able to take a winery tour today we enjoyed browsing the large, handsome showroom and tasting samples of their wines.


Prairie Berry presses, blends, ferments, and ages a good variety of delicious wines on-site. They also sell other berry products like fruit preserves and lots of wine-related items (wine glasses, cozies, corkscrews, etc.).

This page on their website explains where they get their grapes and fruit. Rhubarb, wild plums, raspberries, chokecherries, buffaloberries, and other fruits grow well in South Dakota, and even some kinds of grapes grow that far north.

Prairie Berry’s signature wine is 90% rhubarb with 10% raspberry to cut the tartness. It’s called Red Ass wine. Their billboards, t-shirts, and promotional materials all feature the “red ass” theme.

Of course I had to taste that one!

Memorable name, memorable taste (kinda sweet, so I like it)

You can taste five ˝-oz. servings of different wines for free. You can taste more but you have to pay for additional samples. Jim wanted to taste only one so he was the designated driver. I tasted five and later the gal brought me a frozen wine treat to sample (free) while I was choosing the bottles I wanted to purchase.

That was hard because the samples of the ones I tasted were all very good and the descriptions of the others in the racks on display sounded like I'd enjoy many of them, too.

Prairie Berry has both indoor and outdoor seating if you want to enjoy an informal lunch on-site.
The winery also offers table tastings and bistro evenings where wine is paired with gourmet food.

I ended up with four different kinds of wine that we liked from the tasting -- the one that Jim tasted (Blue Suede Shoes) and three others I liked (Red Ass Rhubarb, Raspberry Honeywine, and Chokecherry Medley). I also purchased some rhubarb and raspberry preserves after test-tasting them on crackers.

Free tastings at wineries are as good of an idea for businesses and consumers as are the free samples of food at stores like Costco and Sam's Club. Enough people buy the products they like to make it cost-effective for the businesses and it's a fun way to determine if you like a particular wine or food before you buy it. It's a gamble to choose wines you can't taste beforehand and I've "lost" as many times as I've "won."

Here's the link to the Prairie Berry website if you want more information.


When we got back to Rapid City I shopped at Walmart and Sam’s Club. After all we did today we still got home by 2 PM. Cody was very happy to see us. He didn't get to go to the Hills so I took him for a walk after we got home.

This interesting wooden bridge is at the intersection of US 16 and 16A north of Keystone.

After Jim noted his cycling distance for the week he decided to ride some more on base. He wasn’t as tired from his ride down in the Hills as I was since he’s better trained and it’s his only recreational activity now. He rode another 9 miles for a total of 28 today and his highest weekly mileage this year.

Next entry:  exploring some new trails in Custer State Park (includes bison photos in Wind Cave National Park)

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil