Napa Valley is synonymous with wine, and more importantly for those wineries and small towns alike, tourists. Yet, as I’ve written here before, we’ve got a budding wine culture right here in our own backyard; Minnesota wineries are gaining in popularity. Our state is home to more than 600 vineyards and more than 30 wineries, according to the Minnesota Grape Growers Association. A visit to any of them to experience a bit of the terroir firsthand can make for a wonderful late summer and early fall day trip.
While I’ve had a chance to visit a few wineries, many remain on my list to visit. Now the Minnesota Grape Growers Association has made it that much easier to check off a few more. The association recently released its discovery passport. Available for purchase at $25 online, each passport allows a visitor 10 free tastings (a value of more than $50) at participating wineries located in varied growing regions nestled across the state, from the Twin Cities to the Iron Range, from farmlands and prairies of south central Minnesota to the bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley.
With names such as Flower Valley, Whispering Oaks, and Painted Prairie, the 30 participating wineries certainly sound enticing. The passport offers one tasting per winery per passport, encouraging users to discover local communities, history, and culture through the unique grape varieties that flourish in our cold climate. A few details: Passports must be in-hand to redeem. The passports only expire once you’ve used up all of your tastings, and there are no refunds if you lose it.
The Minnesota Grape Growers Association Passport is just one more reason to enjoy a bit of viticulture. And who knows, as the climate patterns continue to change our wine region may become that much more attractive to wine growers and tourists alike. Until then, enjoy some wonder wine from right here in Minnesota. Cheers.
Vineyards in the rolling hills of the sogn valley near Cannon River Winery