Grape vines aren’t the only green thing at Strawbale Winery in rural Renner, South Dakota. SW joined the growing list of South Dakota wineries a little over a year ago. While these wineries all make shopping for regional products a little easier, SW is the only one that can boast a sustainable building method: strawbale construction (as if you haven’t guessed that by now). For the second of my South Dakota Green Features, co-owner Don South graciously answered a few questions via e-mail.
How did you first become interested in straw bale construction? Is your winery the first strawbale project you’ve built or participated in building? I have always been interested in using renewable resources, GREEN before green was cool, I guess. This was our first strawbale construction project, but we did visit a few in the area. The wide walls and rustic look appealed to us.
Could you describe a little about the construction process? We had a young contractor, who was up for something new. We purchased bales through a farmer, who could compact them and make them consistently the same size as best as could be expected. We gathered some friends and other people interested in building this unique structure and put the walls in ourselves. We used a chainsaw to square the bales up and hand stuffed any cracks. We also resewed bales with huge needles our contractor made. The wine tasting room also is post and beam construction with timbers from a wind fall of mature white pine trees in northern Minnesota. All went well except for the rain that ran down into one of the walls because they weren’t protected well enough.
In addition to the strawbale building, what other environmentally sustainable practices do you currently use or plan to implement for the winery? The counter tops are slate from an old schools blackboards. The winery itself is made of panels insulated with compacted straw. When we add on, we hope to continue using straw and reusing unique items.
A couple links with more information about SW: