Two Silo Vineyards
Minnesota – the land of 10,000 lakes but is Minnesota a serious wine industry? You betcha! And its growing….Today there are more than 70 wineries.
This past fall 2018, marked our venture into the wine industry. We have designated 12 acres of the farmland as our “terroir,” that nebulous French term that basically means that the conditions in a given spot produce something distinctive in the wines that emanate from them.
Our long love affair with grapes and the wine they make is quite a passionate affair itself. Grape growing in Minnesota is a testament to the benefits of research and resourcefulness. Elmer Swenson, noted horticulturalist, created, among others, the cold-climate Edelweiss and St. Croix varieties. Our cold climate can be quite harsh for many grape varieties, but thanks to the research and perseverance of the University of Minnesota, we are ripe for a few cold-hardy hybrid grape varieties. And, that includes one of the state’s most important grapes.
This spring 2019, will mark the plantings of 684 vines as phase one. We have chosen two cold hardy vines; the Red Marquette and the White Itasca.
Marquette is a complex hybrid, one that involves Vitis vinifera as well as American species. It is named after Pere Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, and 17th century explorer in North America and has been said by the University of Minnesota to be a cousin of Frontenac and a grandson of pinot noir. In 2006, the Marquette was developed from a cross of MN 1094 – a complex hybrid including Vitis riparia and Vitis vinifera – with the French hybrid Ravat 262. The grape has high sugar, moderate acidity and good tannin levels.
The Marquette is called a “winemakers wine,” one where the winemaker can greatly influence the final wine depending on how the wine is treated in the cellar. Marquette is a liquid canvas that allows for all different expressions. Finished wines are complex, with attractive ruby color, pronounced tannins, and desirable notes of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice on both nose and palate.
The new grape, which will be used to make dry white wines, is the latest in a series of cold-hardy cultivars released by the university that led to the nascent wine industry in Minnesota and other northern climates around the world. Itasca produces a wine that is light yellow to straw in color and has aromas of pear, quince, violet, melon, minerals, and subtle honey notes. “This is a very nice grape with lots of potential as a wine maker’s grape,” said Bryan Forbes, the university’s wine maker. “It is clean and pleasant with pear and floral notes and mineral notes with a long finish.”