June 4, 2011

History of Our Efforts Thus Far

In 2008, two friends (Bill Bluhm and Scott Lindgren) talked about how cool it might be to have a vineyard and winery.  We went with our wives to Napa to do research (so to speak).  As the discussion get more serious, we began looking initially for a small plot of land to experiment with some vines. 

We started talking about potential wine quality, and how cold weather grapes have never produced great wine.  We figured that, to produce pretty good wine, we'd probably need to use some juice we import from California or Oregon.  We found that Minnesota requires its wine to use 51% local juice, but Wisconsin does not, which caused us to lean toward a vineyard over the border.

Eventually, we found a small farm for sale in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and bought it.  In 2010, we planted 125 vines in a test plot-- 25 vines each of 5 different varieties.  We visited a few wineries, eventually finding a group of guys from Danzinger Winery in Alma, WI, who were willing to consult with us to help us build our vineyard and winery. 

The vines we just planted were mostly of the Marquette variety  (http://www.grapes.umn.edu/marquette/viticulture.html).  It is a promising grape.  I tasted some wine this past winter that had been aged a year in Minnesota oak, and it was actually quite good.  We also planted a couple rows of Brianna(http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/Brianna.asp).
We hope to have the deer fence up in a few weeks, and an equipment shed by the end of the summer.  First step, though, is finding the right spot for a new well.
Here's a picture of our two families at the planting last weekend.