Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Planning your Minnesota Wine Buying

Minnesota wine grape growers have pruned their vines over the past several weeks, their vineyards are waking up and wineries are bottling wine and opening their tasting rooms. Memorial Day weekend, the kickoff to summer, is HERE and it's time to start visiting wineries!
As a starting point for your winery exploration I have some recommendations based on some of the winners of the 2010 International Cold Climate Wine Competition (ICCWC). You may not find the exact vintages on your travels, but these award-winning wineries are a great place to start. This past February the Minnesota Grape Growers Association held their annual Cold Climate Wine conference and during the closing night gala we sampled the following wines with our dinner. Sampled isn't really the right word... (We drank a lot of wine.)
First on the list is Fieldstone Vineyards' Frontenac Rose', a "A crisp finishing wine with distinctive notes of black cherry on the palette." Fieldstone is located in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Their 2009 Frontenac Rose' won Double Gold at the 2010 ICCWC. Visit www.fieldstonevineyards.com.
Next is Cannon River Winery's Sogn Blush, "sweet and fruity with aromas of wild berries." 2010 vintage to be bottled and released in May. Cannon River Winery is located in Cannon Falls, MN. Their Sogn Blush won Gold at the 2010 ICCWC. Visit www.cannonriverwinery.com.
On to the whites. First up is Parley Lake Winery's Brianna Breeze, aromas of "pear and citrus and a delicate finish." 2010 ICCWC Gold winning 2009 vintage is available. Parley Lake Winery is located in Waconia, and open in July. Visit www.parleylakewinery.com.
Next will require more of a travel commitment for my friends in the Midwest. When in New Haven, Vermont, try Lincoln Peak Vineyard Winery's La Crescent, a "refreshing dry wine with a spicy mix of pear and citrus flavors and a crisp finish." Named 2010 ICCWC Best In Show White Wine, the 2009 vintage is available on their website: www.lincolnpeakvineyard.com.
Back in Minnesota we have our first red, Indian Island Winery's Marquette, a "Semi-Dry Red table wine. Aromas of spice, black currant, and blackberry." The 2009 vintage was named 2010 ICCWC Best of Show: Red. It is no longer available but their 2010 vintage is ready to go! Located in Janesville, MN visit www.indianislandwinery.com.
Another Marquette, this time from Woodland Hill Winery in Delano, MN, was named 2010 ICCWC ---- is "full bodied, and barrel aged" and "aromas and flavors of plum, black cherry are very pronounced on the pallet." The 2009 vintage is shown as available on their website: woodlandhillwinery.net
On to the dessert wines. Saint Croix Vineyard’s 2009 La Crescent Dessert Wine won the Minnesota Governor's Cup trophy at the 2010 ICCWC honoring Excellence in Cold Climate Winemaking. This dessert wine is no longer available, but many other wines to choose from, including dessert wine, are available at their location in Stillwater or at www.scvwines.com.
Finally, another roadtrip from Minnesota for the last winery recommentation Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette, IA. Their dessert wine Serenity, a Gold winner at the 2010 ICCWC exhibits the "tartness and sweetness of fresh red raspberries with a hint of chocolate" and earned a lot of oohs and aahs from our table. Serenity is in-stock at www.eagleslandingwinery.com
So, there's a starting point for your Summer's local-wine buying. See you at the wineries or your local liquor store. Cheers!