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MN Wine Escapes

 

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There has been amazing growth in the number of vineyards and wineries in Minnesota since the first opened here in 1978. There are now more than 40 wineries in the state, and they make a great outing. In fact, several have organized as “wine trails” to make it easy for visitors to explore nearby wineries.

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Sovereign Estate Brings Home The Governor’s Cup

Sovereign Estate Brings Home The Governor’s Cup At The 6th Annual International Cold Climate Wine Competition
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., (8/19/2014) – After much swishing and spitting, winners have been confirmed at the 2014 International Cold Climate Wine Competition (ICCWC), held at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Conference Center in St. Paul, MN. The trophy for the best Minnesota grape wine known as the Minnesota Governor’s Cup, was won by Sovereign Estate of Waconia, MN, for their single varietal 2013 La Crescent wine. The Minnesota Governor’s Cup, a lovely large silver ice bucket, recognizes the “Best of Show” or top prize of all Minnesota gold-winning wines. This is the 6th year the traveling trophy has been awarded.

Shelburne Vineyard of Shelburne, VT took “Best of Show” or top prize in the red wine category for their 2012 Marquette Reserve. In the white wine category, Danzinger Vineyards of Alma, WI was awarded “Best of Show” for their 2013 Golden Sunrise, a single varietal Frontenac Gris. The specialty/fortified wine category “Best of Show” winner was Door 44 Winery of Sturgeon Bay, WI with their “Bubbler”, sparkling wine.

This year’s competition included 284 wines from 59 commercial wineries in 11 states. Awards were based on blind tastings by 21 expert judges, who include enologists, wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers, and wine educators. Three-judge panels determined the initial medals, with the top-scoring Best of Show wines evaluated by seven-judge panels and all 21 judges for the Minnesota Governor’s Cup award.

The ICCWC is a partnership between the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota, which developed several of the cold-hardy grapes used to make the wines in the competition. This competition is the only one exclusively dedicated to wines made from cold-hardy grape varieties that can withstand the winters known to the Upper Midwest, North East, and parts of Canada. The main goals of the ICCWC are to educate the world about these grape varieties and encourage enology practices that will produce high quality and highly marketable wines. The competition is coordinated by Gordon Rouse, AWS Certified Judge, of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association (MGGA), Gary Gardner, Professor of Horticultural Science in the University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and Katie Cook, University of Minnesota Enologist. Sponsors include the Minnesota Farm Winery Association and the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis Hotel.

The competition is open to commercial wineries meeting the criteria for cold-hardy grape and fruit content. In 2014 a total of 33 Gold, 67 Silver, and 80 Bronze medals were awarded. In addition, “Best of Show” designations were awarded to wines rated as the finest in the available categories. Medal winners and competition judges are listed below.

The Less Familiar Grape Names of Cold Climate Regions.
The grape varieties that most wine drinkers are familiar with: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and the like grow wonderfully under a multitude of conditions as long the winters do not get too cold. Despite the fact that the Twin Cities are at approximately the same line of latitude as Bordeaux [44.9° to 44.8° respectively], famous wine regions like Bordeaux do not have winters with temperatures that consistently sit below 0° F. At these temperatures, the vines of European varieties would perish. Native American grape varieties found in the northern states do survive our winters though. Therefore, instead of spending thousands of years breeding our native grapes to create ones that produce wines we enjoy as was done with the European varieties, we are cross-breeding the native varieties with the European ones to produce grapes that not only survive the winters, but taste good as well. The names of these hybrids are what you will find on the wine labels in Minnesota and numerous other cold climate regions.

History
Grape growing and winemaking has been a part of just about every state’s history starting when European settlers began arriving. In the northern states though, European grape varieties never fared well. It wasn’t until the 1970s that successes from notable Wisconsin grape breeder, Elmer Swenson and the University of Minnesota showed that cold climate grape growing and winemaking could be a viable industry. In 1976 the MN Grape Growers Association was formed. Two years later, the first vineyard exclusively growing cold hardy grapes was established. The Minnesota Legislature soon recognized this potential and in 1985, they directed the University of Minnesota specifically to research grape growing and wine production in cold climates. In 1996, the University released Frontenac, its first truly cold-hardy grape variety which has since been followed be numerous others including La Crescent and Marquette. Over the years, the University of Minnesota has been recognized as having one of the top wine grape research programs in the United States. The contribution to the economy of the industry surpassed $40 million in 2011 and has continued to grow (even through cold winters) ever since.

There are currently 77 registered wine producers and blenders in the state of Minnesota. The number of wine producers in the state has nearly doubled over the past 5 years and is expected to continue to grow. Winner list available here.

Passport to Minnesota Wine Country


The Minnesota Grape Growers Association recently launched a large scale marketing campaign called ‘Passport to Minnesota Wines;’ designed to cultivate a broader patronage for the emerging tourism industry surrounding around Minnesota wineries.

Thirty Minnesota wineries are participating in the program and offer free ‘wine tastings’ to visiting passport holders. A passport wine tasting is a selection of wines presented sampling and comparison. Visitors may sample anywhere from 3-7 wines at any one winery.  Passports are sold for $25 a piece and good for 10 free tastings at any of the participating wineries; one tasting per winery per passport.  Passports expire when all 10 tastings have been redeemed.  You may purchase your Passport at www.mngrapegrowers.com/passport.

About Minnesota Grape Growers Association: 
Minnesota Grape Growers Association was formed in 1976 to heighten public awareness of the Minnesota grape and wine industry, advance legislative support of the grape and wine industry and advance quality standards in the production of Minnesota grown grapes and wines. We invite you to explore our website and discover the exceptional quality of the Minnesota Grape and Wine Industry. www.mngrapegrowers.com.

For more information:
Cheri Anderson, Minnesota Grape Growers Association
Membership Director
cheri.anderson@mngrapes.org

Finding Minnesota: Grape Stomp at Carlos Creek Winery

Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, Minn., received some great coverage on its upcoming Grape Stomp (THIS WEEKEND!), and also a nice plug for Minnesota grapes and wines. If you missed the segment last night, here it is:

Grape Expectations

Check out the latest feature spotlighting the Minnesota wine industry in Twin Cities Business Journal.

“A serious wine industry is taking root in the region. Is it content to be a niche player, or is it gearing up to be Napa Lite?”

Twin Cities Business Journal

 

Minnesota Wines Featured on Twin Cities Live!

Check out the glowing reviews of three Minnesota Farm Winery Association member wineries, courtesy of Twin Cities Live!

Minnesota Wine at the 2012 Great Minnesota Get Together

Minnesota Wine Country is the Minnesota State Fair’s can’t-miss exhibit. Saunter in and relax with a pairing of local wine and fresh, eclectic foods. Featured wines from 13 Minnesota wineries find their new home in the old Epiphany Diner building on Underwood Street. Be sure to visit Minnesota Wine Country August 23 through September 3!

Four Daughters’ La Crescent Wine Takes Top Honors

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., (8/16/2012) – 2011 La Crescent wine from Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery in Spring Valley, Minn., won the coveted Minnesota Governor’s Cup trophy at the 2012 International Cold Climate Wine  Competition (ICCWC), held today at the University of Minnesota’s Conference Center in St. Paul.

The Minnesota Governor’s Cup, a large silver ice bucket, recognizes the “Best of Show” or top prize of all Minnesota gold-winning wines. This is fourth year the traveling trophy has been awarded.

The Four Daughters 2011 La Crescent also won the “Best of Show” award for the top white wine. Other “Best of Show” awards went to the Shelburne Vineyard, Shelburne, Vt., for its 2010 Marquette Reserve, as best red wine and to the Danzinger Vineyards, Alma, Wis., for its Midnight Voyage Dessert Red Wine, for best specialty/fortified wine.

This year’s competition included more than 325 wines from commercial wineries in 12 states and Canada. Awards were based on blind tastings by 21 expert judges, who include wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers and wine educators. Three-judge panels determined the initial awards, with the top-scoring Best of Show wines evaluated by seven-judge panels and all 21 judges for the Minnesota Governor’s Cup award.

The ICCWC is a partnership between the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota, which developed several of the cold-hardy grapes used to make the wines in the competition. It is coordinated by Gordon Rouse, AWS Certified Judge, of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association (MGGA); Gary Gardner, professor of horticultural science in the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; Katie Cook, University of Minnesota enologist; and Kristo Sween of the MGGA.

The competition is open to commercial wineries meeting the criteria for cold-hardy grape or fruit content. In 2012, a total of 2 Double Gold, 20 Gold, 61 Silver, and 79 Bronze medals were awarded. In addition, “Best of Show” designations were awarded to wines rated as the finest in various areas. Double Gold medals require unanimity among a panel’s judges that a wine deserves a Gold medal, whereas Gold medals require a majority vote.

In addition to the University of Minnesota and the MGGA, the ICCWC was made possible with the financial support of the Minnesota Farm Winery Association, Minnesota Wines at the Fair, the Minneapolis Commons Hotel, MDT & Associates, WineWare Software, and Double A Vineyards, Inc.

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