The bar for judging Minnesota wines tends to be set lower than for those made from grapes grown in more felicitous locales. But a golden age of cold-climate winemaking may be on the horizon. A few years ago, U of M breeders introduced a red-wine grape, Marquette, that’s been warming the hearts of winemakers from Minnesota to Maine. Marquette has lower acidity and more pronounced tannins than Frontenac, the previous standard bearer, making it a better candidate to compete with vinifera varieties like Pinot Noir.
Morgan Creek Vineyards, in New Ulm, recently released the first commercial bottling of Marquette, the product of a year-long collaboration with Minneapolis’s FireLake Grill House, where it’s now the house red. Order a glass with a rib-eye steak from locally raised bison, and you’ll get a true taste of Minnesota.