Dancing Loons vineyard is located near North Turtle Lake

Contributed photo
Vicki Severson was joined by friends on Sept. 13 for the completion of the harvesting of grapes at the family-owned vineyard near North Turtle Lake, east of Underwood.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

The spirit of Bryan Severson was with grape pickers under sunny skies Sept. 13 when friends joined Vicki Severson, east of Underwood, at the Severson’s Dancing Loons vineyard. 

Contributed photos
Vicki Severson, center, with Laurel Petersen, left, and Lori Dawkins, right, who have been helping the Seversons with harvest since the vineyard began.

This was again part of the annual tradition at the 4-acre vineyard. For several years the fruits of their labors have resulted in high quality grapes used for winemaking. 

This year’s grape harvest was especially good.

Many grape pickers recall the words of Bryan, a retired school teacher, before his passing in February 2022. He said a successful grape harvest depends on lots of sun, heat and a nice fall for grapes to reach their full potential. Grapes can tolerate the dry weather and still produce a wonderful fruit.

Carefully picking grapes is Debbie Schiele at mid-morning on Sept. 13.

Vicki has managed the vineyard herself the past two years since Bryan’s passing.

“This has been healing to work in the vineyard but now I’m ready to pass the baton,” she said. “There is a considerable amount of time, effort and expense dealing with all the things that can go wrong on a daily basis.”

Bryan had a passion for the grapes and Vicki wanted to honor his memory. 

“I’m sure you will still find me in the vineyard next year,” she said. “I love the ambiance of the vines!”

She and Bryan started their vineyard 20 years ago, in 2003. 

“For us grape pickers, each fall the labor of love was a way to reconnect with Vicki’s family and friends,” says Lori Dawkins, a close friend of Vicki.

There are many memories of yearly grape harvests with enjoyable wine tasting outdoors near the Severson home and complimentary bottles of wine for the volunteers to take home.

Over the years the Seversons sold grapes to other personal winemakers, winemaking clubs and area wineries.

“I am blessed to have such a great family and friends,” Vicki said. “These good memories will last forever.”