David A. Bailly, founder of Alexis Bailly Vineyard, aspired to
make a great Minnesota wine. French winemakers have long
held that in order to produce great wine, the grapevines must
endure hardship - wind, sleet, snow, and drought.
Enthusiastically, Bailly adopted the motto, "Where the grapes
In August of 2005, Minnesota's very first
AVA was approved
and established as "Alexandria Lakes Viticultural Area" in
Douglas County. Robert Johnson on behalf of Carlos Creek
Winery filed the petition for the area. "This approval will put
Minnesota on the map as a wine producing state," said
Johnson. "The Viticultural Area puts Minnesota on the same
level of official recognition as that of Napa or Sonoma areas in
July 22, 2009 the
Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA is
established and becomes the largest wine region in the
world. Spanning portions of four states including Minnesota;
it is 39 times the size of Napa Valley!
Minnesota has 33 wineries, approximately 50 commercial
vineyards, and many hundred small hobby vineyards.
"Minneapolis lies at the same latitude as the Bordeaux region
of France (45 degrees North), and several hundred miles farther
south than the great Rheingau region of Germany. As in these
regions, the summers in south-central Minnesota are well
suited to grape vines -- sunny, warm, and with ample rainfall.
Also, we too have an abundance of good vineyard sites, with
rolling hills and bluffs along rivers and lakes."
--Northern Vineyards Winery
Minnesota's Award Winning Wines
Minnesota wineries have been producing awarding winning wines
for the last two decades. Listed below are the most celebrated
wines. See the wineries' web sites for more award-
winning wines in the gold, silver, and bronze categories.
The Minnesota Gold Medal Winners
Minnesota Grape Growers Association -
St. Croix Vineyard's Raspberry Infusion wine received this
acknowledgement from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "This
massive dessert wine begs to be consumed with chocolate."
WineHaven Winery of Chisago, MN received rave reviews in 2005
for its Riesling in Wine Spectator magazine, USA Today called
WineHaven a "notable producer" and WineHaven's popular gold
medal Honeywine was featured as a "top pick" on the Fine Living
Network's television show Simply Wine with Andrea Immer.
Forestedge Winery received national and international medals in
2007 for it's Chokecherry wine, twice for Rhubarb/Raspberry Wine
and again, their Rhubarb Wine.
Alexis Bailly Vineyard has earned over 45 national honors from it's
beginnings in 1978.
Alexis Bailly 2005 release of "Voyageur" exemplifies opulent flavors
that evolve with blending of the grapes from original vines and the
newer University of MN developed Frontenac grape. With the recent
award of Best Wine of North America and Central America as
well as Best in Class at The International Vino Challenge,
"Voyageur" represents the full potential of how great wines can be
made in Minnesota.
Morgan Creek Vineyards of Cambria, MN collaborated with
FireLake Grill House and the U of M to develop FireLake's
new house wine, Ten Thousand Vines. Released in March 2009,
this signifies the first commercial offering of the new U of M
Marquette varietal, observed as a grape with great wine making
Falconer vineyards is awarded the prestigious Governor's Cup
for their Frontenac Port at the first International Cold Climate
Wine Competition, held August 2009 in St. Paul.