Ep 051 – Cold Climate Conference

Cold Climate grapes developed by the University of Minnesota. Photos from University of Minnesota, David L. Hansen.


Recently we attended the Cold Climate Conference held yearly in Minnesota. This conference is geared towards grape growers and wine makers. During the conference we learned a ton about cold climate grapes, challenges in wine-making and tried some excellent wines.


You might ask, why do cold climate or hybrids grapes need to exist? Grapes like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon have been tried and failed in areas like Minnesota even when the vines were buried during the wintertime. It’s simply too cold. Even in places like Vermont and parts of New York state, the large swings in winter temperatures can easily damaging those vines, making it extremely risky to grow and profit from.


Much to our surprise, the cold climate wine industry is starting to boom. A 2014 study found that the cold-climate grape-growing and winery industry is estimated to have a $401 million economic impact nationwide. That number will continue to grow so it’s only fitting that we dive a little deeper into this up-and-coming wine industry.

The Marquette Vineyard overlooking Lake Waconia, Minnesota. Photo from Sovereign Estate Winery.


In this episode we discuss:

  • Brief History of American Hybrids
  • Where Northern Hybrids came from
  • Challenges in wine-making with cold-climate hybrids
  • Wine Characteristics and Styles
  • Our biggest take-aways from the conference


Wine Recommendations:

Sovereign Estate 2015 La Crescent – priced around $26. This is a very aromatic and fruity wine with aromas of pineapple, peach, and pear. Crisp and light on the palate, with a hint of sweetness. Pair with light broiled seafood, honey ham, tropical fruits, and creamy cheeses.


Winehaven Marquette Reserve 2014 – priced around $15. Deep purple colored wine with aromas of dark berries and pepper with flavors of dark fruit, pepper and wood on the finish. It’s a dry, full bodied wine with medium tannins, medium acidity and medium alcohol. This wine is fruity and savory at the same time. Pair this with beef and wild games dishes.







About Betty Notto

Betty Notto is a wine lover based in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. She is the co-creator and co-host of Weekly Wine Show Podcast. Find her out in the interwebs via Twitter @weeklywineshow @bettynotto