Our Team

Here at Valiant Vineyards, we’re fortunate to have a team of passionate, talented, and driven individuals.

Leif Nygaard

Head Vintner

Leif Nygaard is the Head Vintner at Valiant Vineyards Winery and is a sixth-generation family winemaker. He has fine-tuned the wine making process at Valiant and his wines have received numerous national awards over the past several years. Leif is the team leader in wine making, ageing, and bottling.

Leif Nygaard


Assistant Vintner

Lucas Burke is the Assistant Vintner at Valiant Vineyards Winery, and his duties also include cellar maintenance. He assists in wine making and maintaining the bottling line. Lucas works with bottling and packaging the wine and is an indispensable member of the winery team.

The assistant winemaker standing in front of wine barrels


Tasting Room Manager

Adrienne Lewis joined the Valiant Team in the year 2001. She began as a member of the wait staff. In the last decade, she has worked in the kitchen as a cook, behind the bar as a tasting clerk and bartender, upstairs as a maid when needed and assisted in production line labeling of bottled wine; just to mention some of her duties. Over the past decade, Adrienne has cross-trained in nearly all the first and second floor duties. She works with customers planning wedding receptions and special events. If you have called 605-624-4500 you probably have talked with Adrienne. She is a valuable member of the Valiant Team.

Woman standing in grape leaves

Sherry Nygaard

Vice President, Secretary, General Manager

Sherry started her professional career as a flight attendant for Hughes AirWest from 1978-1985. She then worked as a ticket agent for America West from 1985-1997 in both Reno and Las Vegas, NV. After moving to South Dakota, she served as the administrative assistant to the Senior Vice President of Business Operations for Gateway Computers for six years.

She assisted in planting the first grape vines on the Nygaard farm in Turner, Co. and maintained the vineyard from 1993 to 2008.

She earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice at the University of South Dakota, and then received a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies.

Sherry has served ten years on the board of directors of Valiant Vineyards, Inc. She is passionate about travel and good food.

Sherry Nygaard standing behind bar
Sherry Nygaard

Eldon Nygaard

Chief Executive Officer

Eldon received his undergraduate degree in Business from the University of Nebraska and a Juris Doctorate from Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, WI. He is licensed to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. District Court (Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin), U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals in Washington, DC, and the Board of Veterans Appeals. He taught in the College of Business at Arizona State University, Colorado University, and retired from teaching Political Science at the University of South Dakota.

Eldon served two terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives and one term in the South Dakota Senate. He served on the Board of Directors for Southeast Council of Governments (SECOG) in Sioux Falls, SD, Pioneer Memorial Hospital Foundation in Viborg, SD, American Vintners Association in Washington, DC, and Wine America in Washington, DC. Eldon is Charter President of the South Dakota Specialty Producers Association and a past president of South Dakota Wine Growers Association. Since 1984, he has been a farmer in Turner County where he and his wife Sherry live on their 240-acre farm.

Eldon sipping wine from a glass
Eldon Nygaard
Eldon in military uniform standing with his daughter
Eldon (Retired Army CW-4 Helicopter Pilot) with his daughter, Jeanette

Flora & Dellingr

Certified Winery Dogs

Our two highly trained winery dogs provide added security to Valiant’s seven-acre site situated near the banks of the Vermillion River. They are both very friendly and sometimes even act as “greeters” to the customers. They spend most of their time chasing rabbits and barking at wild turkeys.

Two dogs sitting near wine barrels
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