Up until about a decade ago, when Minnesotans heard “local wine,” what they really heard was “dandelion wine” or “fruit wine.”
Thanks to groups like the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota’s agriculture department, gone are the days when vino lovers had to search far and wide for real wines with a local flare.
“People still come into wineries and talk about their grandfather’s dandelion wine and they cringe,” said MGGA member and Minnesota Summer Wine Festival and Market director Aaron Berdofe. “… The quality and taste value has improved significantly, and we’re getting to a point where we’re not just producing drinkable wines, but we’re producing award-winning wines.”
Many of those award-winning wines will be good for the taking at this year’s inaugural Minnesota Summer Wine Festival and Market, taking place noon-5 p.m. Saturday, July 11 at The Shops at West End. More than 20 wineries will be serving up tastings and selling bottles of their products alongside live music and food vendors. For $30, guests receive admission to the festival, a free glass of wine and a collector’s wine glass—not to mention the chance to buy up to six bottles of Minnesota-grown wine.
How do you grow grapes in a climate like the northern plains, you ask? Berdofe explained that after some trial and error, MGGA and the U of M have developed ways to grow grapes without the vines freezing. This allows them to create wines like the Marquette varietal, made with a red grape (essentially a grandchild of Pinot Noir) that is mixed with native varietals, developing a hardiness to cold but still keeping a fantastic flavor.
“It’s very interesting that we’ve come to a point where science has let us develop something like that,” Berdofe said.
Come taste some Marquette, along with dozens of other Minnesota wines, at the first annual Minnesota Summer Wine Festival and Market at The Shops at West End, 1621 West End Blvd., St. Louis Park, MN 55416. Get your tickets here.