Minnesota is yet a fledgling when it comes to its history as a wine region. Barely over a generation old, the first grape vines were planted in Minnesota soil in the 1970’s (compared to other commercial American wine regions established in the mid-1800’s.) In that short time almost 70 wineries have opened regionally, and our budding wine industry is having an impact world-wide.
The University of Minnesota has one of the top programs developing “cold-climate” grapes, meaning grapevines that survive Minnesota’s extreme cold winters. To put it simply: the U of M has developed and continues to develop new varieties of grapes which thrive despite cold winters and can produce excellent wine (an important fact, since not all grapes will make good wine!). Seedling plants are being produced each year and are purchased by cultivators world-wide.
Wineries in Minnesota which produce their wine primarily from locally grown fruit can apply for special licensing as a “Farm Winery”, which allows them to sell bottles for off-premise consumption 7 days a week, meaning you can purchase a bottle of wine to take home, even on Sundays!
There are a total of more than 20 grape varieties native to the state of Minnesota, 9 of which have been developed by the U of M.