As I write this, I am traveling back from the Cold Climate Conference presented by the Minnesota Grape Growers Association conference held in St. Paul. It was a good conference with lots of information, friendly wineries and fun social events. Not least among the social events was the winter Wine Fest on Friday night. At the Winter Wine Fest the wineries were all pouring their wines. What made this event more than just a wine tasting for the attendees was the introduction of food vendors and consumers. There was also a silent auction, with plenty of great wines out for bid and other auction items including food, wine books, art and a myriad of other items. I was lucky enough to be successful in bidding on some wine from Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery, I lost out on some others, but as I was bringing the wine home in my suitcase, it was probably just as well that I wasn’t the high bidder on much more than I got.
I was impressed with the idea of bringing consumers into this tasting. They had a good turnout of consumers, especially considering the low, low temperatures, high wind and the amount of snow that had fallen just a day before. But Minnesotans are a hardy lot and the less than perfect weather didn’t seem to keep many at home.
The attendees hailed from Minnesota (of course) as well as Iowa and Michigan bringing with them some delicious wines. The big talk among the wineries was a grape developed by the University of Minnesota and now in production in many states from the east through the Midwest and into the Northwest. The cold hardy grape is Marquette, name after a Jesuit priest who explored the area. This medium bodied, red grape a descendent of Pinot Noir is a big favorite with the wineries, and they are doing an exceptional job in making good, dry red wines from this local grape.
I am looking forward to seeing the continued development of Marquette wine and looking forward to the time when I am able to buy it in California.
A tip of the glass from me to you!