BELLE FOURCHE — Belle Fourche's Jackson Winery and Vineyards, LLC (Belle Joli' Winery) recently received a $300,000 US Department of Agriculture rural development grant. The grant will allow the winery to expand its products and services.
USDA secretary for rural development Dallas Tonsager and South Dakota Rural Development state director Elsie M. Meeks announced Jackson Winery and Vineyards as the grant recipient on Thursday while attending a Rural Energy for America Program stakeholders meeting in Sioux Falls.
Funding for the grant was made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“This federal funding will help this South Dakota entrepreneur expand its business and tap into new markets for its products and services,” said Tonsager. “These outcomes are exactly what the Obama administration strives for — to help entrepreneurs find new markets and create jobs.”
Jackson Vineyards started on a small acreage more than a decade ago where the Red Water River and the Belle Fourche River merge. The name, Belle Joli', pays homage to the beauty and rich qualities of the Black Hills. It is here that the dream of a family-owned vineyard began to grow for the Jackson family. The Jackson family has used their vision of a Black Hills vineyard and a passion for wine to create wines that are grown, harvested, and bottled in western South Dakota.
Matthew Jackson, co-owner of Jackson Winery and Vineyards, said he and his business partners applied for the grant in August of 2011. Jackson said he was shocked and incredibly grateful when he heard that his business received the grant.
“It took us a few days to realize this actually happened. This grant will really help our potential to grow” Jackson said. “It will help not just us, but it will also help attract other potential vineyards to the area.”
Jackson said he feels that attracting more vineyards to the area would help increase tourism in the Black Hills. He also feels a bit of healthy competition will help his business. He also hopes the use of this grant money will help put western South Dakota on the map as a serious wine producing area.
“I think what's really important is promoting the grapes that can be grown in South Dakota, that's what we're really trying to capitalize on — even though it's the end product, which is the bottle,” Jackson said. “The fact that we can grow grapes as good as these and do all the production here, that's what we're really excited about.”
Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants funds are made available to agricultural producers seeking to establish or expand markets for their value-added agricultural products. Funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.
“Our family is honored and proud to receive this grant,” said Matthew Jackson's father, John Jackson, co-owner of Jackson Winery and Vineyards. “As our Winery continues to grow and the vineyards continue to expand and mature this grant will help us to develop markets for our South Dakota products.”
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