Variety development and winemaking expertise benefits Minnesota wine industry
The cold-climate wine industry is worth an estimated $400 million, but because of the young age of cold-hardy grape cultivars, northern winemakers require guidance on how to get the best results from their grapes. In Minnesota, where the cold-climate wine industry is worth an estimated $80.3 million, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station scientists are blending variety development and winemaking expertise to support more than 80 wineries and an industry that creates about 10,500 jobs.
In 2019, 22 workshops or field days supported 533 grape growers and others to learn about best practices in managing grape growing, including disease and pest management, supporting cold hardy grapes and troubleshooting grapevine issues. In addition, researchers conducted a sensory analysis at the Cold Climate Grape Conference in 2017 and 2018 with experimental Itasca wines made with the new Itasca grape, which is about 30% lower in total acidity than Frontenac gris, to provide initial insight to winemakers making Itasca wines for the first time.
By providing the industry with the latest advances in propagation, hybridization, cultivation and winemaking, station researchers and Extension specialists are ensuring the introduction of vines with superior performance in both vineyard and winery and helping guarantee the continued growth of the wine industry throughout Minnesota and the world.