Summertime at Medora UnCork'd features Thursday Night Music Series, 100 wines and more
Wine bar, Medora Uncork’d, features local music every Thursday night throughout the summer. We stopped by Thursday to listen to alternative country artist Kyle Wells, of southwest North Dakota, as well as speak to one of the wine bar co-owners on what they have in store for the rest of summer.
MEDORA, N.D. — From the “ Medora Musical ,” horseback riding tours in Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the ole cowboy candy shops, Medora in the summertime has an adventurous experience waiting for anyone who visits. And on Thursday nights, solo musicians entertain locals and tourists at Medora Uncork’d.
The wine bar, located in downtown Medora among the ole western buildings, features music from 8 to 10 p.m. Thursdays during the summer. Since other bars and restaurants in Medora typically have live music on Fridays and Saturdays, Co-owner/President Travis Enders said Thursday is more accommodating for those traveling during the week or locals looking for something to do.
“... We are a little bit smaller and more quaint of a venue. And so, it was pretty popular and so we wanted to continue it this year,” Enders said. “It’s really almost the same lineup of musicians. We focus mostly on solo artists because it just makes sense. It’s part of our environment. So it’s been pretty great this year.”
Each performer usually plays at Medora Uncork’d at least a few times throughout the season.
“We have a couple of solo artists that have been interested and they have just very cool, unique voices. The one that I definitely want to call out would be Connie Gjermundson. (She’s) very popular in the region; she’s a Taylor native and her family has been very popular in the area,” he said. “She really is our inspiration for starting music.”
Enders noted that Gjermundson had approached him as they were opening their business and asked where she might be able to play music. He added that the stage is a tribute to Gjermundson, who will play at Medora Uncork’d on July 21, Aug. 4 and close out the musical series on Sept. 1.
Bringing a ‘large city wine bar feel’ to Medora
Enders and co-owner Mitch Gilseth originally opened the wine bar in 2018 what is known as the Wine and Gift Shop and Tasting Room and Lounge, which is next door to its current location. As the summer went on, Enders noted that they wanted to be able to accommodate more entertainment, so one year later they expanded into the gift shop that decided to not renew its lease.
Throughout 2020, they renovated the space, expanding their kitchen and dining room. By the next year, the wine bar opened its dining side and began featuring its Thursday Night Music Series.
“We’re pretty close to 100 different wines that over the summer are mostly available by the glass and the bottle. We’re busy enough to really have that consistent flow, and people — both the locals and people just traveling through town — like that they can get a variety of wines,” Enders said, noting, “A lot of people outside of the area, they’re always looking for the North Dakota wines.”
Medora UnCork’d features four wineries plus the Cottonwood Cider House, with each carrying six to seven different varieties.
“We’re trying to put a large city wine bar feel into North Dakota into Medora. And we get that comment a lot that people are surprised that they have come to Medora and they were not expecting to find such a wide selection of wines from all over the place,” he said, adding that was one of their goals from the start.
On top of a wide range of wine tastings, Medora Uncork’d has a kid friendly menu, authentic appetizers, flat breads and pizzas.
“We pretty much have always stuck firm to not wanting to be another burger and dry place. And most days, that’s a good comforting thing for us,” he said. “We do lose some business. People come in and they think they just want to sit down and have burgers and fries and that is disheartening because we do have some really good flat breads and pizzas. All of our appetizers we either make them fresh or we’re offering some different options than just some friend appetizers. And then this year we added pasta and pasta has been very popular.”
The wine bar also features “amazing Moscow Mules,” Enders said.
“I know Uncork’d very much screams wine, but we have tried to definitely make sure that we have something for everyone. There's some amazing flavored Moscow Mules,” he said, adding that they’ve expanded their craft beer options.
Hoping for summer boost
So far this summer, Enders said that business in Medora has been a little slower than normal. From rising gas prices to raging thunderstorms on the Western Edge, Enders said that they’re hoping the rest of the summer continues to bloom with traffic.
“July, we’ll get there. But I think it’s something that we’re excited to offer the community,” Enders said. “... One of the benefits that I love about our business is I do have the opportunity to talk to people and nobody’s citing their lower vacation plans because of gas. It’s kind of quite the opposite. I’ve talked to a lot of people from all over the country that are on road trips. While they’re talking about gas is expensive and it’s costing them a little bit more than what they budgeted, they’re still continuing with their plans.”
Though the wine bar is mainly a summer venue, Medora Uncork’d works on providing seasonal events throughout the year from the Summer Wine Walk, participating in the Beer and Bacon Walk and Cowboy Christmas. Enders said that they also host occassional pop-up weekends.
Since 2018, Enders said they’ve developed a following and they want to make sure people still feel that authenticity when walking through the door.
“We want to be dynamic with our menu, but we want to still stay as true to ourselves as possible (by) not turning into a fried food place. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but… we wanted to be different,” he added.
By this fall or early 2023, Enders said they’re working on creating escape rooms as another entertainment option for adults with two different themed rooms.
To learn more about the wine bar or view a complete list of the Thursday Night Music Series, visit Medora Uncork’d Facebook page or call 833-623-2675.