This month’s selections are a small sampling of the wines our region produces. From brutal winters to monstrous thunderstorms to inevitable stretches of ninety-five–degree days, Minnesota’s climate doesn’t exactly coddle grapes. The quote on Alexis Bailly’s label says it all: “Where the grapes can suffer.” Most regionally grown grapes are University of Minnesota hybrids, optimized to survive our winter, so don’t expect to recognize a lot of the names (though some European varietals are used as well). The people in the regional wine industry have a passion for what they do, and they welcome your visits.
Regional wines are not widely or reliably stocked in local retailers. Contact the wineries to purchase the wine.
Saint Croix Vineyards Vignoles 2003 (Stillwater), $10.95
A nose of apricots, peaches, and a touch of honey, with flavors similar to the aroma. The vignoles grape reminded me of German riesling. Good fruit, crisp, with a hint of sweetness. Drink on its own or with a light salad. 651-430-3310, scvwines.com
Forestedge Cranberry Wine (Laporte), $10.50
It tastes like Thanksgiving! It’s hard to talk about wine from Minnesota without including a fruit wine. This one is fun, simple, and easy on the taste buds. And no surprise, it tastes like cranberries—fruity, crisp, and clean. Try it with pasta. 218-224-3535, forestedgewinery.com
Northern Vineyards Rivertown Red 2003 (Stillwater), $10
Made from 100 percent Frontenac, a grape developed by the U of M, this one has a nose of cherry and plum. It tastes a little like zinfandel, and is medium-bodied with light tannins. Drink it with red meat or pasta with tomato sauce. 651-430-1032, northernvineyards.com
Alexis Bailly Vineyard Ratafia (Hastings), $18.99
Made from red grapes and infused with orange and spice, this wine is fortified with a distilled spirit that adds alcohol and balances the fruit. It reminds me of a Dreamsicle that gives you a buzz. Serve it over ice before dinner or with any chocolate dessert. 651-437-1413, abvwines.com