Minnesota varietals

Anybody have experience with these?

We own a property in Roxbury, NY. The property is hill/mountainside with good drainage and great sun exposure. I thought about growing some riesling or vidal grapes for fun. I checked with the Cornell Extension at the suggestion of Thomas Pellechia (shouldn’t he be here?) and was told the vinafera and even most hybrid grapes will not do well at my location. Primary problem is winters that are just too cold. Even in “good” years, I’d lose half my vines. In “bad” years, probably 100% loss.

The Cornell Extension suggested I could have success with the “Minnesota Varietals”, developed by the University of Minnesota specifically for cold weather climates.

So I’m curious about what people think about the wines from these varietals (La Crescent, Frontenac, Marquette, St. Pepin primarily).

I tried Marquette earlier this year. One bottle was a 100% from U of M, forget what the treatment was. Interesting, but obviously they were running experimental batches not working towards an end.

More interesting was a commercial release :

  • 2007 Morgan Creek Vineyards 10 M Vines Marquette - USA, Minnesota (3/31/2009)
    (First commercial release of a wine from the Marquette grape) Slight grilled meat edge to the nose. Nice spice, broad fruits. A liqueur-like edge and just comes short of holding the alcohol. Dark fruits on the finish with herbal edge. There is a nice personality here.

Posted from CellarTracker

I believe this is an exclusive bottling for a restaurant in Minneapolis. I think it was blended with something too.

At the same conference, I had some Frontenac wines from WI. I never put notes up on CT, but they were middle of the road. One from Frontenac Gris was interesting.

When I get home, I will find my notes and, hopefully, a contact person in WI who has experience with these.


I visited and tasted with Nan Bailly at Alexis Bailly Vineyards in Minnesota a few years ago. She had a Frontenac that was good. And I think she made a port of Frontenac as well.

To combat the cold winters she had to bury the vines in dirt after she picked, then would unearth them in the spring.

She was very friendly and may have some insight for you.
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Not sure if that helps any

Ledgestone Vineyards in WI. tim@ledgestonevineyards.com

He planted Marquette in '07 and has production-level of the others you mention.

Nice guy and will be glad to advise.


Thanks for the help. My cellar is nice and cool, so I think I could do it in the house.

I’m particularly interested in the varietals that don’t need to be buried in winter. Could be fun!