25th Polo Match Marks End Of An Era

Black Hills Polo Club saved the best until last. After a four-year losing streak, it prevailed 8-6 over Hill City’s Rushmore Polo Club in the 25th Annual Picnic & Polo Club match at Newton Fork Ranch.

Sunday, August 30th’s high goal game began with Rushmore seizing a strong lead with captain Tim Gregson posting two goals. It was soon answered by Black Hill’s veteran player Kurt Ketelsen weaving through Hill City’s defense for a shot on goal for a 2-1 score. Gregson responded with another goal that ended the 7 ½-minute chukker, 3-1, in Rushmore’s favor.

The second chukker began looking as if Rushmore Polo & Social Club would handily cinch a fifth straight title after Tim Gregson scored a quick fourth goal. But Ketelsen prevailed and answered the challenge with two goals in quick succession and the first half ended with a much closer 4-3 with Hill City still in the lead.

With riders and horses seeking shade to cool down in the steamy 90+-degree weather, the 150 or so fans took to the field for the traditional “divot stomp” generously hosted by Dan and Mary McNamara of the Harney Peak Inn. With champagne in hand, the crowd went in search of turf that needed replacing. The field was quickly repaired and the socializing commenced in earnest.

Following the divot stomp was the fourth annual “Arleen Lippman Hat Contest.” Mrs. Lippman, former owner of “A&H Grocery” on Hill City’s Main Street, was well known for her fondness for hats. Having owned more than 100, she was rarely sighted without one. Spectators were encouraged to flex their creativity and contestants stepped forward to vie for Sunday’s trophy. As Newton Fork Ranch owner and game day announcer Linda Flounders held a polo mallet aloft behind each competitor, the crowd voiced its approval with applause. In a very close decision, it looked as though local favorite Anne French, last year’s winner may take the title again but she was edged out by visiting Caroline Kelner of La Jolla, CA with a silver cowboy hat decorated in a 25th Anniversary theme.

The third chukker got off to a quick start with Kurt Ketelsen driving a goal for Rapid City to tie the game 4-4. Inspired by his team’s show of force, Duane Lammers racked up another two goals to move Black Hills Polo into the lead, 6-4. This turn-of-events drove Rushmore’s Boe Gregson, Tim’s nephew, into action with a driving goal of his own to end the third chukker, 6-5. After every chukker and goal the ball is thrown in, which kept ball persons Richard Flounders, and Wyatt and Riley Gylten hopping.

The fourth chukker began with fans, and score-keeper Laurie Flounders, on the edge of their seats. It was proving to be one of the most exciting and high-scoring games in years. Ketelsen, a third-generation polo player, came on strong posting yet another goal as Black Hills continued to pull ahead. Not to be deterred, crowd favorite Dan Gylten, sent a strong shot up field to Boe Gregson who piled on another point for Hill City. At 7-6, it was anyone’s guess who would secure the win. That was soon answered by veteran polo player Rich Jensen, who replaced alternate player Susie Lammers, mid-chukker, after an unexpected tumble. He scrambled his way through several Rushmore defensive players to secure the 8-6 win for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club.

Afterwards, fans gathered to enjoy a picnic with lots of delicious food provided by Moni Matush and Wally Matush of the Alpine Inn, former poloist Kitty Pitts, Newton Fork Ranch, and the many guests. The celebrants enjoyed visiting with one another, and relishing the burgers and hot dogs seasoned and served up by the culinary talents of award-winning Grill Chef Bob Stanfiel. It was a bittersweet conclusion to the season as this was the 25th Anniversary and final polo game at Newton Fork Ranch. “It is getting harder each year to gather all the players up and we all agreed that it seemed apropos to end on a high note” commented ranch owner Linda Flounders. Her thought was followed by Chuck Fritzel who said, “Yes, but it will leave a awfully big hole in next year’s social calendar!”

Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Dan Gylten (white #2) moves the ball down field while being closely followed by opposing Black Hills Polo Club’s Rich Jensen (red #4) and Kurt Ketelsen (red #1). Fellow team member Tim Gregson (white #1) brings up the rear.

Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Dan Gylten (white #2) moves the ball down field while being closely followed by opposing Black Hills Polo Club’s Rich Jensen (red #4) and Kurt Ketelsen (red #1). Fellow team member Tim Gregson (white #1) brings up the rear.

Duane Lammers (red #3) playing for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club is neck-in-neck with Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Boe Gregson (white #3) in pursuit of the ball.

Duane Lammers (red #3) playing for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club is neck-in-neck with Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Boe Gregson (white #3) in pursuit of the ball.

Tim Gregson (white #1) performs an off-side shot to move the ball up field while Boe Gregson (white #3) assists. Susie Lammers (red #2) moves ahead to assume a defensive position.

Tim Gregson (white #1) performs an off-side shot to move the ball up field while Boe Gregson (white #3) assists. Susie Lammers (red #2) moves ahead to assume a defensive position.

“Picnic & Polo” at Newton Fork Ranch always includes, albeit sometimes elaborate, tailgate parties.

“Picnic & Polo” at Newton Fork Ranch always includes, albeit sometimes elaborate, tailgate parties.

Conviviality reigns as fans enjoy a glass of champagne and visiting with one another during the traditional halftime “divot stomp.”

Conviviality reigns as fans enjoy a glass of champagne and visiting with one another during the traditional halftime “divot stomp.”

Caroline Kelner (far right), flanked by fellow competitors, is the winner of the “Arleen Lippman Hat Trophy.”

Caroline Kelner (far right), flanked by fellow competitors, is the winner of the “Arleen Lippman Hat Trophy.”

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) looks back at opposing Black Hills Polo member Duane Lammers (red #3) in anticipation of the ball’s direction.

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) looks back at opposing Black Hills Polo member Duane Lammers (red #3) in anticipation of the ball’s direction.

Black Hills Polo Club team member Duane Lammers sends the ball down field with an offside shot as Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) prepares to assist. Rushmore member Tim Gregson (white #1) closes in.

Black Hills Polo Club team member Duane Lammers sends the ball down field with an offside shot as Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) prepares to assist. Rushmore member Tim Gregson (white #1) closes in.

Rapid City’s Duane Lammers breaks away with possession of the ball as fellow teammate Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) and the entire Hill City Rushmore Polo & Social Club pursues.

Rapid City’s Duane Lammers breaks away with possession of the ball as fellow teammate Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) and the entire Hill City Rushmore Polo & Social Club pursues.

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) sends the ball flying as fellow teammates react and Susie Lammers (red #2) moves to defend.

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) sends the ball flying as fellow teammates react and Susie Lammers (red #2) moves to defend.

Hill City’s Boe Gregson breaks away for a shot on goal while hotly pursued by Susie Lammers (red #2), Kurt Ketelsen (red #1), and Duane Lammers (red #3). Dan Gylten (white #2) brings up Hill City’s aft in the pivot position.

Hill City’s Boe Gregson breaks away for a shot on goal while hotly pursued by Susie Lammers (red #2), Kurt Ketelsen (red #1), and Duane Lammers (red #3). Dan Gylten (white #2) brings up Hill City’s aft in the pivot position.

Last year’s winning team captain Tim Gregson (left) shares in holding the Paul E. Lippman Memorial Trophy with this year’s victorious Black Hills Polo Club captain Duane Lammers (right).

Last year’s winning team captain Tim Gregson (left) shares in holding the Paul E. Lippman Memorial Trophy with this year’s victorious Black Hills Polo Club captain Duane Lammers (right).

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Rushmore Polo Club Continues Winning Streak

Rushmore Polo and Social Club’s chances of pulling a 4th straight win over visiting Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club at Sunday’s Newton Fork Ranch’s 24th Annual “Picnic & Polo” event looked bleaker than this past summer’s skies. With a shake-up of the Hill City team members with the absence of Boe and Angela Gregson, it took awhile for Rushmore to settle into the game. The missing Gregsons were replaced by renowned buffalo wrangler Duane Lammers, now of Manitoba, Canada and Susie Lammers of Sioux Falls. Filling out the home team roster was Tim Gregson and, as an alternate, Duane’s son Alex, who last played in 2007. The Black Hills Polo Club was represented by Kurt and Judy Ketelsen from north of Ellsworth, Rich Jensen of Double Diamond Ranch and, Dan Glyten of Hill City who was playing as an alternate.

Stepping onto the field in the first chukker were Kurt and Judy Ketelsen along with Dan Gylten. Representing Hill City were Duane Lammers, Tim Gregson, and Susie Lammers. And, although both teams came out with mallets swinging, the first chukker ended scoreless.

Commencing with the second chukker, the play began in earnest. Black Hills Polo members Kurt Ketelsen and Dan Glyten both put a goal on the board with Rich Jensen assisting. Rushmore managed to answer the call with a goal of its own posted by captain Tim Gregson. Both teams exhibited some fine playing with lots of impressive, strong offside backhand shots that kept the ball rolling on goal. The match went into halftime with a score of 2-1 in favor of Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club.

After the players moved off field to water and rest their ponies, the third annual “Arleen Lippman Hat Contest” commenced.   Mrs. Lippman, former owner of “A&H Grocery” on Hill City’s Main Street was well known for her fondness for hats. Having owned more than 100, she was rarely sighted without one. Spectators were encouraged to flex their creativity and contestants stepped forward to vie for Sunday’s trophy. As Newton Fork Ranch owner and game day announcer Linda Flounders held a polo mallet aloft behind each competitor, the crowd voiced its approval with applause. In a very close decision, crowd favorite Anne French of Hill City was announced as the winner of the annual trophy.

The parade of hats was soon followed by spectators taking to the field with champagne glasses in hand to participate in “stomping divots.”   The annual tradition was again hosted by former poloist, Kitty Pitts.

Action resumed with Tim Gregson, along with Duane and Alex Lammers putting the moves on Rapid City. With horses panting and solid shots up and down the field, Rapid City’s Kurt Ketelsen, Rich Jensen, and Dan Glyten were denied the opportunity to up the ante. But neither was Hill City able to score. Although both teams exhibited excellent offensive and defensive moves, the third chukker ended scoreless and expressions of frustration resumed. Not only on the faces of the players but also on the faces of scorekeeper Rachel Taylor and flagmen Gervase Hittle and Shane Taylor who were left idle.

When the fourth and final chukker began with Kurt and Judy Ketelsen taking the field along with Dan Gylten, it looked as though Hill City might be handed its first defeat in three years. Opposing Rapid City was Duane Lammers, Tim Gregson, and Susie Lammers. With a steely look in Gregson’s eye that said Hill City would not go “quietly into that good night,” the play began. Gylten, competitive as ever, seemed to have his nose in every play. The Ketelsens also proved adept at offensive maneuvering that featured Judy delivering a successful shot on goal. But Hill City would not be denied. Gregson pressed on and issued a firm slap down with two goals that were matched by teammate Alex Lammers. When the game ended, Hill City’s Rushmore Polo and Social Club prevailed with a score of 5-3.

Afterwards, fans gathered to enjoy a picnic with lots of delicious food provided by guests, Moni Matush of the Alpine Inn, Wally Matush, and Newton Fork Ranch. The celebrants enjoyed visiting with one another, and relishing the burgers and hot dogs seasoned and served up by the culinary talents of Grill Chef Bob Stanfiel.

With everyone’s appetite satiated, the afternoon concluded with a well-received concert by the Badger Setts Band headed by Pegie Douglas. The ensemble was formed in 2012 to honor the life of Badger Clark, South Dakota’s First Poet Laureate. Douglas, the founder, puts select Badger Clark poems to music. The group had graciously agreed to appear Sunday in honor of Clark’s “original” Badger Hole cabin having been relocated from Custer State Park to Newton Fork Ranch.

2014 Polo Photo #1

Rushmore Polo member Duane Lammers (white #3) confers with opposing Black Hills Polo players Judy Ketelsen (background) and Dan Gylten (red #4).

2014 Polo Photo #2

The game is about to begin with the Black Hills Polo Club members players, Judy Ketelsen (red #1), Kurt Ketelsen (red #2), Dan Gylten (red #4), waiting for the ball roll-in. Along side them is Rushmore Polo and Social Club members Susie Lammers (white #1), Tim Gregson (white #2), and Duane Lammers (white #3).

2014 Polo Photo #3

Rapid City player Kurt Ketelsen (red #2) sets up for a nearside backhand shot, one of the most difficult maneuvers because the rider is off-balance, as Rushmore player Duane Lammers (white #3) and Tim Gregson (white #2) pursue.

2014 Polo Photo #4

A strong downfield shot by Judy Ketelsen (red #1) has Susie Lammers (white #1) and Tim Gregson in pursuit. Kurt Ketelsen (red #2) is providing backup. Flagman Gervase Hittle is seen in the background.

2014 Polo Photo #5

It’s anybody’s ball as Black Hills Polo Club’s Judy Ketelsen (red #1), Kurt Ketelsen, and Rushmore Polo & Social Club member Tim Gregson (white #2) race neck-in-neck.

2014 Polo Photo #6

Black Hills Polo Club team member Rich Jensen glides past enraptured spectators as Susie Lammers and Tim Gregson of Rushmore Polo shadow.

2014 Polo Photo #7

Winner Anne French grips her “Arleen Lippman Hat Trophy” while conferring with a fellow contestant.

2014 Polo Photo #8

“Team Ketelsen” (in red shirts) try to hold Rushmore’s Susie Lammers (white #1) at bay during Sunday’s 24th Annual “Picnic & Polo” match at Newton Fork Ranch.

2014 Polo Photo #9

Rushmore Polo & Social Club wins Sunday’s polo game with a score of 5-3.

2014 Polo Photo #10

Tim Gregson accepts the “Paul E. Lippman Memorial Polo Cup” on behalf of Hill City’s team.

2014 Polo Photo #11

Spectators lined up for the annual barbeque following the game. Chef Bob Stanfiel confers with a hungry guest.

2014 Polo Photo #12

Pegie Douglas and the Badger Setts Band delights the crowd with song and celebration during the post-game festivities.

Rushmore Polo Club “Reins In” Another Victory

Last Sunday’s annual polo match at Newton Fork Ranch must have felt like déjà vu for Rapid City’s team captain Kurt Ketelsen.  Although historically the teams are equally matched, Hill City’s Rushmore Polo and Social Club dispensed the opponents with their third defeat in as many years.  Spectators, many who had turned out in their finest hats for a day of polo, were not disappointed by the action.  And the game had special meaning for captains Ketelsen and Tim Gregson, as the match was played in memory of their mothers, Patricia Ketelsen and Alice Gregson, who passed since last year’s game.  Both were faithful fans who, no doubt, were present Sunday in spirit.

The spectators had no sooner clutched the team roster and rules that Samantha Derwin had provided them when, quick as lightening, Dick Flounders threw the first ball in, the play commenced, and Boe Gregson put a goal on the board in short order.  Judy Ketelsen came to husband Kurt’s aid as he moved the ball up field in scoring position for Dan Gylten who, ultimately, was denied a scoring shot.  So although Rapid City responded with equal initial ferocity to Hill City’s bully boy press, the first chukker ended in Rushmore’s favor 1-0.

With Rapid “heavied up” on alternate players, the second chukker introduced Susie Lammers, a Sioux Falls resident playing for her second year and Rich Jensen of Double Diamond Ranch to assist with offense.  Their third rotating alternate, renowned buffalo wrangler, Duane Lammers answered the “call to arms” for the Black Hills Polo Club, making it 1-1 going into half-time.

After the players moved off field to water and rest their ponies, spectators, with champagne glasses in hand, were invited to participate in the annual tradition of “stomping divots” which was hosted this year by former poloist Kitty Pitts.  Friends greeted each other and, as a result of abundant summer rains, the quaking aspen and lush grass made the end-of-season socializing especially enjoyable.

The “bubbly fest” was soon followed by the second annual “Arleen Lippman Hat Award.”   Mrs. Lippman, former owner of “A&H Grocery” on Hill City’s Main Street was well known for her fondness for hats.  Having owned more than 100, she was rarely sighted without one.  Spectators were encouraged to flex their creativity and about a dozen contestants stepped forward to vie for Sunday’s trophy.  As Newton Fork Ranch owner and game day announcer, Linda Flounders held a polo mallet aloft behind each competitor, the crowd voiced its approval.  In a very close decision, crowd favorite Caroline Kelner of La Jolla, CA, in a blue hat festooned with ornate feathers, secured the win.

The Black Hills Polo Club player rotation continued when the match resumed; however, the rested trio comprised of the Ketelsens and Dan Gylten posed little threat to Rushmore Polo & Social Club.  Angela Gregson swiftly sent a shot on goal that severed the tie, making it 2-1.  Despite some terrific defensive maneuvering by Rapid City, Team Gregson was on the offense.  Angela followed up with a second goal to advance her team’s standing to 3-1 in the third chukker.

In the fourth chukker, with a refreshed Rich Jensen, Susie Lammers and, cousin-by-marriage, Duane Lammers rejoining the field, Rapid came out fighting.  Duane Lammers, who seemed to have his nose in every play, ran both offense and defense and provided Jensen the opportunity to score a goal.  Hill City captain Gregson answered the challenge with a swift goal of his own.  Not to be deterred, Jensen, with a chip shot to the corner, posted another goal, making it 4-3.  With the champagne-fueled spectators on pins and needles and flag persons Jim Williams and Maggie Derwin on high alert, Tim Gregson made his move.  With seconds remaining on the clock, he charged the goal and with mallet held high, nailed a near impossible offside neck shot and sent Rapid City a 5-3 farewell note.

Afterwards, fans gathered to enjoy a picnic with lots of delicious food provided by guests, Moni Matush of the Alpine Inn, Wally Matush, and Newton Fork Ranch.  The celebrants enjoyed recapping the game, visiting with friends, and relishing the burgers and hot dogs seasoned and served up by the culinary talents of Grill Chefs Bob Stanfiel and Rich Sitts.

With everyone’s appetite satiated, the afternoon concluded with a surprise concert by Nina McIntire.  A Russian violinist and MFA graduate of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, she and her husband, Gary, live in Germany, yet have property in Hill City. After many years touring the world with European orchestras, she has recently launched her solo career as a pianist.  She treated guests to a repertoire of classical, jazz, and blues music.  Poised against a slate backdrop and surrounded by Newton Creek, she served up a rich dessert of Debussy, Mozart, and Chopin meshed with her own compositions.  Her unique musical creation, “Ivory Fantasy” (www.IvoryFantasy.com) which she has performed in Russia, Finland, and Germany, found a warm and welcoming reception among her charmed audience.  This was a mesmerizing conclusion to a magical day at Newton Fork Ranch.

ImageSurrounded by Rushmore’s Team Gregson (white shirts), Rich Jensen (red #3) moves the ball up field with assists by teammates Dan Gylten (red #2) and Susie Lammers (red #4).

ImageDuane Lammers (red #2) playing for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club breaks away from Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club Boe Gregson (white #2), as Rich Jensen (red #3) and Susie Lammers look on.

ImageDick Flounders throws in the ball at the start of the second chukker.

ImageAngela Gregson (foreground) sets up for an offside shot for the Hill City team as Kurt Ketelsen (background) of Black Hills Polo Club pursues.

ImageConviviality reigns as fans enjoy a glass of champagne and visiting with one another during the halftime “divot stomp.”

ImageCaroline Kelner (left) wins the “Arleen Lippman Hat Award” and is joined by fellow competitors Laurie Flounders (center) and Moni Matush (right).

ImageDuane Lammers, renowned buffalo wrangler of “Dances With Wolves” fame, breaks away from the pack for Rapid City’s team.

ImageTeam Gregson sets up for a goal with Boe (#2) taking the lead backed by Tim (#3) and Angela (#1) as flag person Jim Williams looks on.

ImageIt’s “all hands on deck” as Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club charges for the goal led by Judy Ketelsen (red #2), followed closely by husband Kurt (red #3), Tim Gregson of Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club, and Dan Glyten (red #1).  Pursing on the right is opposing player Angela Gregson (white #1) as flag person Maggie Derwin is posed to rule on the action.

ImageRapid City teammate Dan Gylten chats up enthralled fans between chukkers.

ImageBoe confers with wife Angela prior to the post-game awards ceremony.

ImageHill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club is victorious once again.  Posing with their mounts: team captain Tim Gregson (left), Boe Gregson (center), and Angela Gregson (right).

ImageBlack Hills Polo Club team member Susie Lammers (red #4) congratulates opposing member Angela Gregson as teammate Duane Lammers (red #2) looks on.

ImageNina McIntire enchants polo fans at a surprise after-game piano concert in the meadow.

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22nd Annual Picnic & Polo Match Delivers Rapid City its second defeat in two years

Spectators, many who had turned out in their finest hats for a day of polo, had to hold onto them.  There was a storm a brewin’!  As expected, Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club stepped onto the field determined to hold onto the Paul E. Lippman Memorial Polo Cup for a second year in a row.  Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club had visions of taking the trophy back and so began the annual match on a pristine Saturday afternoon, August 25, 2012 at Newton Fork Ranch.  Before play commenced though, it was announced that this year’s event would be played in memory of Ed Winger who passed away last November.  Mr. Winger, a long-time Hill City resident along with his wife Jan, never missed a game.

When Jim Lammers threw the initial ball in, the play was fierce as the teams were evenly matched.  This year was no exception as the first chukker ended with local favorite Tim Gregson, captain of the Hill City team and Rapid City’s Kurt Ketelsen each scoring a goal.  Ketelsen, a third-generation polo player and Ellsworth area rancher, is a perennial crowd pleaser.  It should be noted that flag persons Rose Lammers and Jim DeNeui were relieved to have shared equal duties thus far.

The second chukker bore continued fruit as Tim, assisted by nephew Boe Gregson, a former NCAA indoor polo player, once again drove home a goal that was answered in short order by opposing member, and former buffalo rancher, Duane Lammers.  When timekeeper Mary Sitts sounded the halftime horn, the score was tied 2-2 and, it was rumored, Tim’s competitive frustration reached new heights.

With the first two chukkers completed, the players moved off field to water and rest their ponies while the spectators, with champagne glasses in hand, were invited to participate in the annual tradition of “stomping divots.”   There was much socializing in what has become an end-of-summer-season reunion of sorts.  Friends greeted each other and everyone toasted the remarkably mild weather.

The conviviality was soon followed by the debut of the “Arleen Lippman Hat Award.”   Mrs. Lippman, former owner of “A&H Grocery” on Main Street was well known for her fondness for hats.  Having owned more than 100, she was rarely sighted without one.  Spectators were encouraged to flex their creativity and about 20 contestants stepped forward to vie for Saturday’s trophy.  As Bob Stanfiel held a polo mallet aloft behind each competitor, the crowd voiced its approval.  It was soon narrowed down to three finalists: Mary Sitts of Rapid City with a western themed hat; Hill City’s own Moni Matush in a stunning black chapeau; and visiting ranch guest Lynn McGrath who had fashioned a hat featuring a log cabin scene out of twigs, flowers, foliage, and a Newton Fork Ranch brochure.  In a very close decision, crowd favorite McGrath of Chicago, IL secured the win.

When the game resumed, Rushmore Polo & Social Club came out fighting.  Angela Gregson quickly sent a shot on goal that severed the tie, making it 3-2.  Despite some terrific defensive maneuvering by Susie Lammers, a Sioux Falls resident playing for Rapid City, Team Gregson was on the offense.  Tim followed up Angela’s advance with another goal ending the third chukker 4-2 in favor of Hill City.

Kurt Ketelsen and Duane Lammers tried to regain their momentum with some impressive strong nearside and offside backhand shots up field but were unable to withstand the Hill City onslaught.  The Gregsons prevailed when the 4th chukker ended scoreless, handing Rushmore Polo & Social Club its second straight victory.

Afterwards, fans gathered to enjoy a picnic with lots of delicious food provided by guests, Moni Matush of the Alpine Inn, Wally Matush, and Newton Fork Ranch.  The celebrants enjoyed the rest of the gorgeous afternoon, recapping the game, visiting with friends, and relishing the burgers and hot dogs seasoned and served up by the culinary talents of Grill Chefs Bob Stanfiel and Rich Sitts.  And, to everyone’s delight, Chris Voyles plugged in her acoustic guitar and provided the celebrants with an impromptu concert.

The polo trophy is on permanent display in the bar area located in the historic Alpine Inn, on Main Street in Hill City.

Polo fans and tailgate impresarios Chuck Fritzel (left) and James Dean (right) hoist their martinis in a toast to the annual event.

Jan Winger is embraced by Mary Sitts, third place winner of the “Arleen Lippman Hat Contest” on the left and Hill City resident Sonja Karl on the right.

Carol and Wes Shafer are long-time polo fans and even longer Hill City residents. Wes has been in the area since the 1930s.

Seen here truly tailgating are, from left to right: Wally Matush of Hill City fame, Barb Gartner of Rapid City, Joan Schnell, down from her cattle ranch in Lemmon, ND, and Liz DeNeui, once a Hill City resident and now visiting from Port Hueneme, CA.

Hill City team captain Tim Gregson (#3 white) connects with an offside shot on goal as Rapid’s Duane Lammers (#3 red) attempts a defensive move. Tim’s teammate Angela Gregson (#1 white) moves to intercept while Kurt Ketelsen (#1 red) is in pursuit.

Rapid City players Duane Lammers (left) and Kurt Ketelsen (right) scramble after the ball as Hill City takes possession for a long drive down field.

Susie Lammers, having grown up on a cattle ranch west of Sioux Falls, demonstrates a natural athletic ability playing competitive polo for the first time.

Hill City native Jim DeNeui strikes an imposing stance as a goal line flagman.

Chicago, IL resident Lynn McGrath models her log cabin creation that took first place in the hat contest.

Meg Warder, Gail and Jon Crane are joined by Kristin Donnan Standard in the annual halftime tradition of champagne and “divot stomping.”

Bob Stanfiel holds a polo mallet above Mary Sitts’ head encouraging the audience to “voice their votes” while Moni Matush awaits her turn.

Rushmore Polo & Social Club player Boe Gregson (#2 white) prepares to connect with the ball as Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club member Duane Lammers (#3 red) attempts to hook Boe’s mallet in a defensive move.

Susie Lammers (#2 red) of Black Hills Polo Club blocks opposing team member Angela Gregson (#1 white) who, in turn, looks for back-up.

Rushmore player Angela Gregson (#1 white) takes possession of the ball as family members Boe and Tim provide support. Kurt Ketelsen (#1 red), Duane Lammers (#3 red), and Susie Lammers (out of photo range) rush to the defense.

Team captain Tim Gregson accepts the Paul E. Lippman Polo Cup on behalf of the Rushmore Polo & Social Club. This was their second straight win.

Tim Gregson cozies up to longtime friend and polo enthusiast Joan Schnell.

Hollywood in the Hills: Meg Warder whose 1880 Train has appeared in numerous movies and television shows is pictured enjoying the après game festivities with Duane Lammers (center) who provided buffalo for the “Dances With Wolves” movie, and Sean Covel (right) producer of the widely acclaimed film “Napoleon Dynamite.”

As the after party carries on into the evening, Bob Stanfiel with his chef duties behind him, retires under a stunning broad brim hat.

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Grandma Hid Her Fur Coat in the Outhouse

As all true travelers know, sometimes a journey begins in an armchair; often, the distance is merely a trip back in time.  If you have visited Newton Fork Ranch, you may already be familiar with our matriarch, Arleen Lippman.  Her memory has held fast among the old timers in Hill City.  Whether perched on top of a Harley, having High Tea at the Ritz in London, hopping a train to Paris, tending the till at A&H Grocery, or being a front-of-the-pews church-goer, Arleen, in addition to her pioneer spirit, was a colorful character.ImageImageImage

Rarely seen without a hat, donning different ones from her 100+ collection, she was a hardworking businesswoman and an indefatigable booster of Hill City.  She did have her strong opinions though; case-in-point, she harbored a carefully crafted disregard for the stop sign at the corner of Main Street and Deerfield Road.  Feeling that it should never have been installed, this diminutive woman would peer through the steering wheel of “Old Blue” and habitually roll right through it, as locals will attest.

Arleen, along with her husband Harold, moved to Newton Fork Ranch in the early 40s and operated a small business on Main Street, appropriately named A&H Grocery.  Harold was the butcher and Arleen tended the till.  Open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, seven days a week, the store was an integral part of the community.  It was well-known that when times were tough, she allowed customers to “run a tab.”  Every night before closing, this tireless woman would sprinkle sawdust on the old wood floors and then sweep the remains into a used coffee can.  That’s what people had to do when even the sidewalks on Main Street were made of wood.Image

Their home, which was a small ranch house that can be seen as one enters Newton Fork Ranch, was built in 1914 before electricity or modern conveniences came to the Hills.  Those who knew Arleen also knew that she steadfastly refused to replace the cistern pump, the outhouse (where she was rumored to have hidden a fur coat from Harold), or the old wood burning cook stove which all remain to this day in the recently restored home.  She said for the first 34 years there she “pumped every ounce of water and carried out every ounce of water and heated every ounce of water” without feeling any hardship.

After Harold passed away in 1966, Arleen continued to run A&H Grocery until the 1980s.  She was a force of nature, loving social activities and belonging to just about every organization and club including the Hill City Fife and Drum Corp.  She also served as South Dakota State Regent for the Harney Peak Chapter of the DAR.  In addition, being one of the early members of the Chamber of Commerce, she was instrumental in bringing the 1880 Train to town.  It was she who wrote a letter to William B. Heckman, suggesting Hill City as a site for his tourist train idea.Image

In 1996, this grande dame, this larger-than life 4’10” spirit of the Hills passed away at age 91 and, as many will confirm, she is gone in spirit but not in memory.

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Home, Home On The Ranch!

Being a devoted traveler makes for a meticulous host.  And this is the time of year that we put away the suitcase and set out the welcome mat.  As spring eases into summer, the landscaping projects at Newton Fork Ranch advance at a measured pace. But, the advancement is measured by weather as storms pass through just often enough to keep things emerald green.

One of the first projects, before, during, and after the continual mowing of the meadow and surrounding green spaces is the upkeep of Aspen Grove.  The grove, which used to encompass Grandma’s vegetable garden, was reclaimed two years ago.  It had fallen into disuse and was overgrown with tall grass, bushes, and thickets of quaking aspen.  Even the horses that were turned out in that area couldn’t keep up with the grass.  So many hours were spent weeding (with the exception of Dame’s Rocket which was too pretty to rip out), pruning, and thinning to create a horse pasture for guests traveling with equine family members.  It’s an ideal location, especially for guests who rent the Forest Haven cabin that overlooks the pasture.

Every spring ushers in a formidable task to keep that area under control.  While working in there last week, we noticed a lot of activity from the animal kingdom.  There’s a Hairy Woodpecker who has taken up residency in one of the aspen trees.  And we were much relieved to see that he changed his living area.  Last year we had to patch the ranch sign at the entrance where he tried to settle in!  He (and we know it’s a “he” by the red patch on the back of his head) doesn’t seem to mind human company either and will land on trees a few feet away.   Snapping a photo though is a challenge since he is constantly in motion.

A robin that was guarding a nest nearby also periodically stalked us.  To add to this, in the early morning, deer are using Aspen Grove for a gathering place as well.

So now Aspen Grove is all tidied-up and ready for occupancy.  Be it horse, flora, or fauna!

Before Aspen Grove was weeded and thinned, we relied on the horses for landscaping help.

It took several horses to work on keeping the tall grass down. Note how tall it had become in that thicket of background trees.

Of course, the grass is always greener…

Look at the difference in Aspen Grove after the trees are thinned and the grass is cut down. The area looks so much larger now.

And, with the addition of two heavy-duty 12’ x 12’ paneled corrals, we are ready for equine guests!

No more leaning over fences looking for greener pastures!

Here’s a close-up view of our resident Hairy Woodpecker’s home. It’s a duplex.

It took quick reflexes to capture this shot and note how his feathers match the tree. It’s ingenious!

Of course, the deer miss the tall grass.

On a sun-dappled afternoon, a view of the Forest Haven cabin from Aspen Grove.

Dame’s Rocket is a weed but the beautiful colors make it very hard to cut down.

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Heather, Highlands & Haggis: It’s All in Bloom This Time of Year in Scotland!

Okay, true confession: the theme of our recent trip to Bonnie Scotland (aye ‘tis true, it is truly bonnie), was a tour of the whisky distilleries.  But one can only sample so many “wee drams,” so our secondary theme was to get out and see the countryside.  As you may know, nature, quiet, and seclusion are an on-going theme at Newton Fork Ranch.  So naturally, when we travel, that’s usually what we search for (Paris, ah Paris, not withstanding!).  Anyhoo… we found those qualities in abundance in Scotland.  A few miles outside of any city seemed to put us squarely in the country.

The adventure began with the flight touching down in Edinburgh and soon had us on a northerly trajectory.  Following a costal route, our tour wound through stately St. Andrews (sorry, no golf for us), Arbroath, Aberdeen, Buckie, Elgin, Findhorn (made famous in the 1960s commune era), Inverness (no sign of  the Loch Ness Monster).  Following the heather, we lodged at a castle hotel in Dornoch, across from the cathedral where Madonna and Guy Ritchie had their baby christened (no sign of Madge either).  Journeying up the rugged coast to John O’Groats, the northern most point in Scotland (hoping, but unsuccessfully, to see the Northern Lights), we then pointed our car west.

I should mention the food here because, for so many of us, travel is all about sampling different foods, isn’t it?  And if you love fish, this is your country.   We lived on fish: salmon and eggs for breakfast, fish chowder for lunch, and every manner of preparation of fish for dinner.  And each time, it was as if the fish had been caught and instantly cooked.  It was that fresh!  Oh yes, and the haggis: about the haggis.  We stopped in a lovely little restaurant in Dufftown whose wildly animated chef wanted us to try it.  We declined.  He said we couldn’t.  We said we could.  But, we lost.  Would you like to know how the haggis tasted?  It was very, very good, a bit like meat loaf.  Our strong-arming culinary ninja of a chef was right.  It was tasty and was served in the traditional way: on an oatcake with “neeps and tatties” (potatoes and turnips).

Back on the road, after Thurso, at times the road turned to single track and the scenery changed from rocky and desolate to more pastoral.  At Durness, we commenced heading south towards the Isle of Skye.  It felt like at that point, all of Scotland heaved a collective sigh because everyone kept telling us that the west coast was beautiful.  Go west, go west!  And it was; still, the charm of the rocky isolated, wind-blown northern coast was a strong draw.  But, the many sheep with the adorable freshly-minted lambs, angus cows, and Shetland horses on the narrow road kept us alert and smiling at all times.

After the Isle of Skye, it was back up into the Highlands to visit a few more villages.  We couldn’t resist hiking the highest mountain range, Ben Nevis.  After stopping for fish and chips, we drove the length of Loch Lomand (singing the famous “You take the high road, and I’ll take the low road”).  The Trossachs National Park took our breath away!

One last B & B, Fernbank House in charming Aberfeldy, had us coveting our two full Scottish breakfasts with to-die-for oatmeal made with milk, honey, whisky and cream floating on the top. We returned to Edinburgh on full stomachs via a quick stop to visit the lovely, and magical Rosslyn Chapel of, more recently, “Da Vinci Code” fame.  Would we go back?  In a New York, no wait, make that a Moray Firth minute!

Spring in the City of Edinburgh

The first stop was the City of Edinburgh where spring was in full bloom.

 Mother Church of Presbyterianism

Interior view of St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Loch Ness Ruin

Ruins were in abundance with this one standing on the shores of Loch Ness.

Highland Resident

This Highland bull was built for the heavy rainfall and strong winds that are the cornerstone of Scotland weather.

Change of Weather

Speaking of weather, here comes a change!

Well-Dressed Horse

This horse was well draped and ready for the wind and rain.

True Scottish Breakfast

Ah, just another lovely start to a tour of Scotland.

The beautiful Highland heather in all its glory.

Highland Lamb

Needless to say, the grass is always greener…

Sign at John O'Groats

The most northernly point, per the locals, on mainland Great Britain. It’s also the beginning or ending point of the renowned John O’Groats to Lands End walk.

Ruins Everywhere

Truly, it seems there are ruins around every corner.

Exploring Ruins

And some ruins just beg for exploration.

Boots & A Bike

The perfect image of a rural life, close to the sea, in Scotland.

Pristine Beach

A pristine and uninhabited stretch of beach along the northern coast.

Steall Gorge

Ben Nevis, at 4,409 feet, is the highest mountain in the British Isles and abounds with hiking trails.

Reflections in a Lake

On the way to Skye Bridge, we just had to stop and take photos of the area foliage reflected in a lake.

More Reflections in a Lake

And yet another reflective photo (you are being spared the other half dozen!).

Sheep on the Isle of Skye

So… can you find the sheep in this photo?

Ancient Stone Hut

It must have been a simple and solitary existence.

A Cow on the Isle of Skye

The life of leisure.

Fisherman's Cottage

The requisite photo of a fisherman’s cottage, yes?

Horse on the Isle of Skye

Just look at this poser!

Rural Call Box

We assumed this was the nearest “land line” for area inhabitants.

Passing Place

Perhaps the sheep follow the signs too?

A True Scotsman

Is this a quintessential photo of Scotland, or what?!?

A Painted Window

Clever window decoration in the charming town of Pitlochry.

A Gate in Stirling

A decorative gate near the castle in Stirling.

Sterling Castle Garden Scene

Spring was all abloom in Stirling Castle.

Another landscape scene watched over by an ancient oak.

Watchful Eye

Speaking of watchful eyes, they were everywhere in the castle.

A Study in Chimneys

Many chimneys and many reasons to stay warm during a long winter.

Daffodils in Aberfeldy

A spring view of Wade’s Bridge over the Tay in Aberfeldy.

Rosslyn Chapel Entry

Photos are not allowed inside Scotland’s famed Rosslyn Chapel but here is a lovely entry into the church.

A Trail of Whisky Begins in South Dakota and Ends in Scotland

So how does a bootlegger at Newton Fork Ranch send us on a foray to the famed distilleries of Scotland?  It all began with recorded tapes at the Hill City library.  In the 1980s, oral history tapes of area “old-timers” were compiled for the development of a “Living History Repository.”  It was during an interview that ranch matriarch, Arleen Lippman, mentioned that a bootlegger, many years prior, had taken up residence at Newton Fork Ranch and had allegedly used baseboards and woodwork for firewood from what is now Grandma’s Ranch House!  That must have been some wicked hooch to be worthy of compromising the old homestead!  However, that said, there is something about a hidden still somewhere in the quaking aspen and pine trees that just fuels the imagination.  How does one go about making some serious illegal backwoods brew?  To find out, well, we just had to go to the source.

A small sampling of the largest, at 3,500 individual bottles, whisky collection in the world.

The plane touched down mid-March at Edinburgh Airport.  Our first point of business was in the old section of the country’s capital to visit The Scotch Whisky Experience located within steps of the famed castle.  This seemed like a wonderful way to begin a neophyte’s trip to the distilleries as it lays a basic foundation of brewing knowledge.  It begins with a barrel ride (Disney Imagineers need not worry) through a fanciful distillery to see how whisky is made.  This is followed by a visit to the Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection of 3,500 individual bottles of Scotch Whisky, the largest in the world.

Each distillery tour featured a tasting. The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh allows you to keep your Glencairn glass as a souvenir.

It ends with an explanation of the four most prominent areas of distillery concentration in Scotland: Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, and Islay.  And all of this, of course, would not be complete without a whisky tasting in our souvenir Glencairn glass. We were delighted to learn that all tours begin or end with the coveted “wee dram,” or in Scotch Gaelic, uisge beatha: “lively water” or “water of life.”

Another “must do” before hitting the roads (on the left, mind you) is to grab a map of Scotland ideally detailing the distilleries; “Collins Whisky Map of Scotland” is a good one.  It not only illustrates the location of each distillery but also offers a color-coded key indicating if each is open to the public, open by arrangement only, or not open to the public at all.

A very stylish tasting room is a pleasant end to the Glenfiddich Distillery tour.

So, we hop into our rented right-hand-drive car and carefully head to the famed Whisky Trail.  Making an initial layover in Dufftown affords us the chance to go to many well-known ones in the area.  The best tour (and one of the only free ones) is Glenfiddich.

It is incredible and gives an extensive base of knowledge.  Not only is everything spotless; the restroom alone is worthy of a visit.  It is the size of a condo, complete with a fireplace and comfy chairs.  Other area stops included were The Ballvenie, The Macallan, and Glen Grant with its lovely Victorian Gardens.

Waterfalls, streams, and lochs are around every corner. It's all about the water!

We discover from the various tours that our Newton Fork Ranch bootlegger was on to something: whiskey distillation is simple.  Now, we’re not saying GOOD whisky is simple, but the process is one easily grasped.  It takes only three ingredients for single malts: barley, yeast, and water.  That’s it!  No wonder our illicit friend settled next to Newton Fork Creek; it was for that clear, sweet, spring water!  And water (which is everywhere in Scotland) is what any distiller will tell you; it is probably the most important element for a quality scotch.  And these distilleries buy up as much property around the water source as possible to protect it.  The water gives a whisky the taste of its local landscape much like the importance of terroir is to wine.

It is also what defines the regions.  Lowland whiskies such as Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan (the ladies’ whisky, per the locals) have a milder, sweeter taste.  The Highlands have a rich, fruiter taste such as Ardmore, The Glendronach, Glenmorangie (note: in Scotland pronounced as “orange” not “mo RAN”), Glen Garioch and Talisker.

A Speyside favorite located in the village of Rothes.

Speyside, which has more than half of Scotland’s distilleries is mellow, sweet, and home to famed ones such as Glenfiddich (the final letter has a “k” sound, not a “ch”), The Glenrothes, Knockando and Oban.  Islay (pronounced “I-La”) is the heavier, saltier, peat taste as experienced in the famed Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich and Laphroaig brands.

Each tour guide tells us that single malt whiskies begin with barley.  The whole process is elaborate but, in a nutshell, here is a quick summary.

Each distillery featured a unique pot still design, an important ingredient to a whisky's taste.

Water is added to allow germination.  Then, yeast is pumped in to begin the fermentation process.  After two to three days, the liquid is ready to distill.  This is another very important element in creating a distinctive whiskey: uniqueness of the copper pot still design changes the favor.  For instance, the fatter stills create stronger, oilier whiskies.  And each distillery appears to engage a different and unique pot still design and, hence, a different and unique favor.

Another interesting note, whiskies are clear.

A locked, per the excise man, spirit safe safeguards the clear whisky during distillation.

After the meticulous distillation and passing through a “spirit safe” where a stillman checks its strength and quality, it is ready to mature.  Aging in oak bourbon casks from the U.S. and port sherry casks from Spain give whisky its distinctive color.  Also of note, it has to age a minimum of three years in Scotland to be called a Scotch whisky.  Most are aged no less than 10 years and the aging stops when it is bottled.  It also loses two percent in evaporation each year in the cask.  This, in turn, drives up the price.  The evaporation is called “the angel’s share” and no tour guide (and I mean not one!) failed to mention that with a requisite smile.

Every distillery that features a visitors’ center also offers tastings.  Some charge £5 or more and a few charge nothing.  If you go to the 14 Diageo distilleries that are open to the public or register online, you can get a whisky journal; this allows you free passage into all of them.  We were told that if you get the journal stamped by all 14 distilleries listed, Diageo will present you with a gift.  Unfortunately, time (not desire) precluded us from achieving this ambitious goal.

Dewar's World of Whisky and spring time in Scotland: a perfect combination!

Without question, we enjoyed our educational journey and agreed that the outstanding tours were: Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, Dewars in Alberfeldy; The Famous Grouse, and Talisker in Skye.  But our favorite distillery of all?  That would be Old Pulteney which is the farthest north on the far-flung, sheep-filled road to John O’Groats.  It is home to the 21Year Old that won Jim Murray’s coveted World Whisky Crown for 2012.  And trust that, Pennington County excise man aside, our bottle is hidden deeper than our Newton Fork Ranch bootlegger ever considered hiding his!

And, after tasting countless drams, what’s our very favorite whisky?  We’ll borrow a quote from one of our recent distillery guides: “It depends on how I feel that day or… want to feel.”  Slàinte!

Switzerland’s Passion for Winter Polo

Introduction of Brioni and Cartier teams.

The Black Hills has experienced strange weather recently, but we are happy to report it is now a winter wonderland with snow predicted to fall through Tuesday.  That’s terrific news for us cold weather enthusiasts!  And, if you have perused our Facebook page and blog, you may have noticed your friends at Newton Fork Ranch harbor multiple passions.  Just to name a few: snow, travel, chocolate, and polo.  And, as luck would have it, there is a special part of the world where all four of these passions converge each year on a magical January weekend: St. Moritz.

Cartier team player sets-up a near-side backhand shot.

If you have followed Black Hills polo you may know it had its start in the 30s with the Calvary boys at Fort Meade. Similarly, polo in St. Moritz got its start even earlier (in 1899) when the British troops played as part of their military maneuvers. The present day St. Moritz Polo Club formed in 1959 and hosts year-round games, including one of our favorite events: the St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow.  Having attended the Cartier vs. Brioni match, we can attest that it is an experience like no other.  Photos here capture a portion of that magic.

Classic defensive move alters Brioni play.

We are sad to report though that, for the first time in its 28-year history, the 2012 event was cancelled disappointing fans and sponsors Cartier, Deutsche Bank, Ralph Lauren, and BMW.  The St. Moritz Lake Commission deemed the iced-over playing surface of Lake St. Moritz too thin and posed a danger to players and spectators.  But as the late Paul Lippman, our own Rushmore Polo and Social Club founder was fond of saying, “better days ahead!”

So here is a toast in hopes of a record snowfall this week in the Hills and a return of the extraordinary St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow in 2013!

In closely matched game, Cartier prevails in 3 - 2.5 win over Brioni.

Get Thee to a W(h)inery!

Having reluctantly just joined the social media sphere, we are intimately familiar with whining. We know people are connecting with each other through the Internet at unheard of rates these days. And truthfully, our hesitation to dialog socially was becoming unevenly balanced with the heady prospect of being able to share our passion for travel, Newton Fork Ranch, and the surrounding Black Hills.  So, we finally “bit the bullet” and recently created a Facebook page.  Then, quicker than one could possibly “Like,” it was suggested that we start a blog.  Oh my gosh, what’s next?  Surely, people understand that only birds are supposed to “tweet” in the Hills!

All right, admittedly there’s a fair amount of whining going on here.  But please understand, at Newton Fork Ranch, we have always encouraged people to put down the cell phones, leave the televisions at home, and come to the ranch to rest, relax, reflect, and re-energize.  As one of our guests so pithily penned in a guest book a few years ago: “It’s day three and my kids have finally quit staring at the blank wall waiting for a television to appear!”

But our whining about social media got us thinking.  What is there, for a committed whiner to do, in the beautiful and pristine Black Hills?  You know, when there is a lack of distraction combined with time and energy to spare?  Can you see it coming?  Get thee to a w(h)inery!

All punning aside, this former gold mining town of Hill City has given up the bootleg liquor (more on that in another post) and has taken up fruit juice with a kick!  Here’s the local scoop: the first to open in the area was Prairie Berry Winery. The Vojta family has been making grape, fruit, and honey wines since 1876 starting with, yep, berries on the prairie.  Their winery, complete with a bistro, is housed in an artful structure that could have been plucked from Napa Valley.  One of the most popular selections is “Red Ass Rhubarb.” They have awards too numerous to count; the most recent is best of class in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Prairie Berry’s move to Hill City in 2004 was followed by Stone Faces Winery in 2009.  Their award-winning wine is produced by Valiant Vineyards in Vermillion.  Established by Eldon Nygaard and his wife and family, it is known as the “Oldest winery in South Dakota.”  Stone Faces is their second Valiant Vineyards winery. Their “Sturgis” blends and “Full Throttle” are area favorites.

The most recent addition to the ever-growing Hill City wine corridor is Naked Winery… good thing it’s a mild winter, eh?  Their aim seems to be to combine love and romance.  And the names of the wines, with double entendres such as, oh never mind, you’ll have to go find out for yourself, add to their brand uniqueness.  We certainly have a meeting of the minds on their mission statement: “We believe every couple should turn off their TVs, open up a bottle.”

So here’s to spending a lovely evening at Newton Fork Ranch cuddled up in front of the fire, lifting a glass of local wine, and toasting your decision to turn off and tune in… to the true conversation!

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