Minnesota Winemakers Can Now Use Out-of-State Grapes
A judge's ruling Tuesday was good news for wineries across Minnesota when it comes to the grapes they can use in making their wine.
This story caught my attention because yesterday when I first read it, I didn't know there even WAS a law here in Minnesota that specified just which grapes local wineries can use when they make their wine. Did you?
Turns out, there is-- or, rather, there was. This KSTP-TV story from back in March says that two winemakers filed a lawsuit seeking to get that law overturned-- which would allow them to use other grapes, most likely from outside Minnesota, as they make their merlots and other kinds of wine.
The law originally stipulated that local wineries had to use a 'majority' of grapes grown in Minnesota. However, as you might guess, many wineries said that made things much more difficult and limiting, seeing as Minnesota's grape-growing season is fairly short. But Tuesday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright said that law was unconstitutional. Which means Minnesota winemakers are now free to use grapes from other states to make their wine.
My interest in this story was piqued after my wife and met the owners of Worthington's Round Lake Vineyards & Winery while on vacation in Duluth earlier this summer. They explained that wineries in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin often need to supplement the grapes they grow with grapes grown in other places. And, that it's a common practice that happens in many wineries, even in places like California's Napa Valley, where the climate is much more hospitable to year-round grape-growing than here in Minnesota.
In fact, they noted that famous California winemaker, Robert Mondavi, often used to buy grapes from other vineyards for use in his wines. "If it was good enough for Bob, then it's good enough for us," they said, noting that it's what you do WITH the grapes at your winery, not necessarily where they're from, that really makes your wine unique. I'm guessing they're pleased with this new ruling!