October 20, 2017

Should New Hybrid Grapes Be More Old World?

Evaluating wine is no easy job.Many art forms - like music and painting- continually develop new genres to accommodate new influences.  But wine is different.  Even today, wine appreciation is based on the proposition that a very limited number of grapes can produce "quality" wine.The highly subjective nature of wine comparison creates a dilemma for Midwest winemakers.  Non-European grapes … [Read more...]

University of Minnesota 2014 Research Update

On January 18th, the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota sponsored a Research Update at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen.As usual, all topics were perfectly presented and very informative.  I would also like to mention that the wine tasting after the meeting was phenomenal. During the last decade, the quality of cool climate wines has improved … [Read more...]

La Crescent: A Winemaker’s Grape

The first time I had a glass of wine made from La Crescent, I was completely blown away.Reminiscent of an aromatic white that might come from Germany or Austria, my mind started spinning with all the potential this grape has for winemakers in Minnesota. The high acidity makes it relatively versatile for various winemaking styles from dry to sweet or even fortified dessert wines, while the … [Read more...]

Katie Cook on Making Wine in the Midwest

Homepage photo: John Thull and Katie Cook of the University of Minnesota.  Visiting the University of Minnesota Research Center, I was surprised to see vinifera growing in the vineyard. What are all those old world vines doing in the mecca of cold climate hybrids?The vinifera is primarily for breeding, to bring vinifera traits into our hybrids. Vinifera also forms a standard. We know … [Read more...]

Frontenac Gris Grape Moves Beyond Minnesota

During 1992,  a new grape variety was discovered by Peter Hemstad in the vineyard at the University of Minnesota’s Horticulture Research Center. According to Katie Cook,  enology project leader at the University of Minnesota, the new grape, called Frontenac Gris, was a single bud mutation of  Frontenac berries growing on a vine that normally bears black fruit. “We see a lot of Frontenac … [Read more...]

Minnesota Winemakers Mastering Ice Wines

The warmest parts of Minnesota are in USDA climate zone 4b so wine grapes there have to withstand -25F from time to time.   Rising to meet the challenge,  The University of Minnesota has developed a cutting edge reputation for developing new varieties of cold climate grapes.  Some of these new grape varietals,  including LaCrescent, Frontenac and Frontenac Gris,  are so new by wine grape standards … [Read more...]

“Grandma Ester” and Other Wine Aromas

How can a winemaker craft a white wine that does not have the unexciting vinous smell of white wine?  According to Dr. Anna Katherine Mansfield of Cornell University,  the winemaker's art is accentuating a quality already in the grape that will rise above the baseline aroma giving the wine sensory impact.Two well established characteristics of wine conspire to reduce aroma, Mansfield explained … [Read more...]

Interview with Katie Cook, U of MN’s Rising Star

Katie Cook left the Minneapolis suburb of Prior Lake after graduating from high school in 2000. What followed was a world-wide wine adventure that included a Masters of Enology degree from the University of Bourgogne in Dijon, France and stints as assistant winemaker at the award-winning Xabregas winery in remote Western Australia and at Quintessa in Rutherford, California.In August 2010, Cook … [Read more...]