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Spicer winery wins medals at competition

ST. PAUL -- Two wines produced by Glacial Ridge Winery near Spicer were awarded bronze medals this week at the first International Cold Climate Wine Competition in St. Paul.

 The contest, hosted by the University of Minnesota, included 60 commercial wineries from 16 states with more than 300 entries.

Fifteen judges from a cross-section of the wine world sampled wines in 34 categories.

Glacial Ridge Winery's winning entries were Castle Rock Red in the Frontenac category and Jazzy in the Frontenac gris category.

"Glacial Ridge Winery is dedicated to producing quality Minnesota wines and we are proud to have our wine recognized by the judges of the International Cold Climate Wine Competition," said Ron Wothe, owner of Glacial Ridge Winery.

The winning wines are on display in the Horticulture Building at the Minnesota State Fair through Labor Day.

Glacial Ridge Winery will also be at the Minnesota State Fair on Labor Day as part of the Minnesota Farm Winery's Meet the Wine Maker program.

Tom Martell, president of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, said the contest shows that grape varieties developed to survive in frosty northern climates can produce fun, enjoyable wines.

"We're not trying to compete with California and the chardonnays and whatnot," Martell said. "We're taking the grapes, the varieties that grow well in our geography, in our climates, and we're creating a wine market."

Jim Luby, a horticulture professor who leads the University of Minnesota's fruit breeding program, said the main challenge is developing vines that can make it through the winter.

Minnesota summers actually provide good conditions for ripening grapes, he said. Parts of the state get more heat and sunshine than some premier grape-growing regions around the world. But Minnesota also gets temperatures of 20 below in the winter.

The leading varieties bred at the University of Minnesota include the whites La Crescent and Frontenac gris, and the reds Frontenac and Marquette.

-- Staff reports