Last nite I spent some time with the Minnesota Grape Growers Association at the Cold Climate Grape Conference held at the Crowne Plaza, St Paul.
With over 20+ wineries in attendance, and between the number of fabulous conversations I had with Minnesota wine growers across the board, I had just a small window to taste getting to about 8 of the local wineries featured. While the varietals and blends ran deep, with each winery hosting over 15+ wines to taste, some of the most important University of Minnesota grape varietals: Frontenac, Marquette, La Crescent and Frontenac Gris were hi-lited.
As the range of flavors from each grape ranged from very dry to stewy sweet – one of the most important lessons I learned of each, was that each winery worked hard to bring ‘balance’ to a variety of their bottled wines. Some wineries laid a heavy hand to their barrel regime, while others let the grape varietals speak for themselves. Some by the use of French oak and most with variations of American oak. Styles were broad, grape varietals were plenty and blends were of interest, yet one of the most interesting projects I came across was from winery, Millner Heritage. A Minnesota bubbly, quoted by the winemaker as being produced in a ‘Methode Champenoise’ style. Sweet, with a foxy backbone, the bubbles seem to be a big hit with the winery booth.
The conversations I shared across the board were heartfelt, spoken from true Minnesotan farmers that were simply there to show their wares. Some, brand new to the industry and others that had been in the business for over 10+ years, like the owner of the Fieldstone Winery. All with passion, interest and love for their industry.
I did, at the same time, talk two of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association members into sharing a few live minutes with me about the event, the Cold Climate Conference with some description as to a few of MN’s most known varietals WITH food pairings to boot! In HD