In 1991, joining with two other families, Connie Poten bought a pasture in the Rattlesnake Valley to save it from development. Five years later, working on a local campaign, she met Andy Sponseller, then a city councilman and founder of Save Open Space, a nonprofit dedicated to saving the city’s open space. Besides conservation, it turned out they shared a certain zeal for dirt, rocks, wildlife and good wine. So it wasn’t long before they found themselves in a new career—throwing rocks into a pickup to clear the pasture a mile south of the mountainous Rattlesnake Wilderness Area.
The rocky patch happened to have miles of sunlight, a slight slope to the south and good drainage. An optimum site for a vineyard. Why not? We drilled a well.
Declared nuts by family and friends, we rationalized the vineyard-in-
Montana’s Rockies scheme as a logical revival of Missoula’s agricultural past. The Garden City, after all, provided fruit, vegetables and flowers for Butte over a century ago, in the heyday of the Copper Kings. Local wine for the next century, its time has come.