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4 min read

Made in MN: Three Great Minnesota Wine Brands

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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.

Minnesota Wine Facts

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, Californian, Italian, or otherwise) consider downloading our Essential Wine Guide to up your game.

Three Great Minnesota Wine Brands:

With your newfound knowledge of Minnesota-grown grapes, let's dive into three of our favorite Minnesotan wineries. 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 (check out our Guide to Minnesota Breweries, Cideries, Distilleries, and Wineries if you’re chomping at the bit for more). If you haven’t already, here are three Minnesota brands you need to try:

  1. Alexis Bailly in Hastings
  2. Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls
  3. St. Croix Wines in Stillwater

Alexis Bailly

Forget Napa! Minnesota's Alexis Bailly Vineyard–known as Minnesota’s first winery–has been rocking award-winning wines since 1978, all with grapes that endure our BRUTAL winters. Their motto? "Where the Grapes Suffer."  But trust us, these grapes suffer deliciously, creating unique wines that'll blow your taste buds away.


Cannon River Winery

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.

Open 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 seasons, Minnesota is a great place to be–especially if you have a glass of wine in hand.

St. Croix Wines

Now that you’ve brushed up on your knowledge of wine, consider joining the St. Croix’s wine club! Established in 1992, this winery is focused on creating award-winning wines using brand-new grapes grown by the University of Minnesota viticulture program. 

So, whether you're a seasoned sommelier or just beginning your wine journey, don't overlook Minnesota's contribution to the world of wine. Embrace the opportunity to explore new flavors, support local winemakers, and elevate your wine experience. Cheers to the bold pioneers and innovative minds behind Minnesota's thriving wine industry—here's to raising a glass to the unexpected, the extraordinary, and the delicious wines of Minnesota.

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