When you think of where wine comes from, where is the place that comes to mind? Mabe Italy, France, Spain, or California? Certainly not snowy Minnesota. Well maybe it’s time to challenge your preconceived notion of wine and where it “has” to come from to be good.
Minnesota has some wonderful wines – thanks to some great grape pioneers, and the folks at the University of Minnesota. So, if you aren’t familiar with our state’s grapes, and are looking to change the status quo, here are some Minnesota wine brands that might make you rethink your European selection.
Since 1978, Alexis Bailly Vineyard has been producing wine with Minnesota grown grapes. While we are far from the Rhone region of France, or California’s Napa Valley, here in Minnesota we have our own grapes that make wine a style of their own. We think Alexis Bailly says it best with the slogan, “Where the Grapes Suffer.” Yep, our winters can do that, but they can also help produce some rocking wines to make your taste buds rejoice instead of suffer.
Three Great Minnesota Wine Brands:
Three means three, so while we would love to write a dissertation on all the wines in Minnesota, we are going to keep it brief. If you haven’t already, here are three Minnesota brands you need to try:
- Alexis Bailly in Hastings
- Cannon River Winery in Cannon Fall
- St. Croix Wines in Stillwater
There are more than 60 wineries across this state. This tiny, yet booming, market of wines is on the incline partly due to the folks at the U of M.
The University of Minnesota’s innovative research and development is credited for the cold hardy grapes that make these wines. They rose to the challenge to “make grapes suffer”. In fact, the U of M has one of the top wine grape programs in the country. The types of grapes used to make wine in Minnesota include:
- Frontenac: This grape makes a tropical tasting wine with aromas of peach and apricot.
- Frontenac gris: Same as above, only this time as a white wine.
- La Crescent: The most popular cold-hardy grape made by the U of M. It is used in late harvest wines.
- Marquette: Bold and intense, this grape produces wines with plum, dark berry, and cherry characteristics
Look at you, wine-grape brainiac. You just got one step closer to becoming a master sommelier. No really though, if wine is something that interests you (Minnesotan, Califorinan, Italian, or otherwise) consider downloading our Essential Wine Guide to up your game. Once you’ve brushed up on your knowledge of wine, consider joining a club, such as the St. Croix’s wine club (est. 1992) to taste their winemakers hand-selected and award-winning wines.
Hit the Trail and Vineyards:
A great way to experience Minnesotan wines is to go to the vineyards themselves. Of course, we have a wide array of locally produced wine on our shelves and online, but something about going to an actual vineyard makes drinking wine all the more special.
Get outside and explore our beautiful wineries - you’ll find them all over this land of 10,000 lakes. Since 2004, Cannon River Winery sits on 40 acres of land in the beautiful Sogn Valley–perfect for touring. It may not be Italy, but during the summer and fall season, Minnesota is a great place to be- especially if you have a glass of wine in hand.
Founded in 1934, Haskell’s has championed fine wines for over 80 years. We have 13 wine stores in Minnesota, two delis and one restaurant. As one of the top wine shops in North America, Haskell’s is known for legendary service and one of the finest collections of wine, beer and spirits. Led by Chairman and CEO Jack Farrell, and the Farrell family, Haskell’s continues to be at the forefront of the wine scene throughout the world. Haskell’s also can ship wine, beer & spirits all throughout the world, the U.S. and we deliver locally.