Brava! A new North Loop bar is removing the mystique of natural wine

Wine is hard, but natural wine is even harder. What exactly is it? How can we identify it without any help from labels? Why is it sometimes cloudy? Why is there more bottle variation than with other wines? Enter Jill Mott and Dan Rice, two of the forces behind a new natural-wine bar in a … [ Read more]

What We’re Drinking: January 2020

Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, wherein The Growler editorial staff look back on recent remarkable beverages. What are you drinking, Growler Nation? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

So you want to open a winery? A guide to starting up in Minnesota

So you’ve decided to make the leap from amateur to professional winemaker. Your fondness has grown so great for the prominent stone fruit flavors of La Crescent or the well-balanced Itasca, that you’ve been coaxed into putting your name onto a bottle and getting it into the hands of grape-indulgent gallivants. The road to professional … [ Read more]

AxeBridge Wine Company opening in Minneapolis’ North Loop next spring

Ashley and Aaron Schram of Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery build their vision for a new urban winery It’s been a busy year for Ashley and Aaron Schram, the owners of Schram Vineyards in Waconia, Minnesota’s first combination winery and brewery. The Schrams launched their modern German-inspired beer hall and brewery Schram Haus this spring, … [ Read more]

2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners

Who better than the readers of The Growler to nominate and vote for the finest of the finest in Minnesota beer, spirits, food, arts, and culture? We had a tidal wave of votes to determine the winners of the 2019 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Awards, and we’re proud to share the results with you. These are … [ Read more]

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2019 Year in Review: Wine & Spirits

Ready, Set, Drink! Local distilleries mounted a full-scale invasion of the ready-to-drink (RTD) category in 2019. Canned and bottled cocktails are up 40% nationwide over 2018, riding the same wave as hard seltzers and canned wine in which drinkers are gravitating towards new flavors in convenient packaging. Vikre Distillery of Duluth launched Frenchie, a pink … [ Read more]

Wine Time: Grapes of Cognac & Armagnac (Or, the virtues of neutrality)

Stay neutral.” Two words designated to Switzerland, minimalist millennials decorating their apartments, and grapes used for distillation—specifically for Cognac and Armagnac. When we think of beverages made from grapes, we immediately rush to wine (especially when reading a wine column.) But, let us take a moment to examine the grapes of the much-loved Cognacs and … [ Read more]

The Vine Room is a Taste of California (And Beyond) in Hopkins

There’s never been a Twin Cities wine bar quite like The Vine Room in Hopkins. The motley assortment of such establishments in these parts are uniformly designed to be comfy-cozy, with warm wood tones and what those of a certain age call “flattering lighting” (i.e., dim and dusky). Not The Vine Room. This is one … [ Read more]

Autolysis: When Yeast Die for the Wine Drinker’s Pleasure

Alcohol has been celebrated with awe for millennia. This mysterious transfiguration of sugar has inspired lore and legend, even religion, until the 19th century when Louis Pasteur proved that yeast is the mechanism at play. We now understand, in winemaking, a variety of yeast strains carry out the primary conversion of grape sugar into alcohol. Only a few wines, however, utilize the yeast post-fermentation to … [ Read more]

Royalty In Rot: For wine grapes, a death deferred by a Noble fungus

Winemakers spend lots of energy during the growing season battling pests and fending off vine diseases that seek to destroy grapes. But there’s one they actually welcome—the so-called “Noble Rot,” or as it is formally known, Botrytis cinerea. Botrytis is a fungal disease that typically lays dormant in almost all vineyards at all times. It … [ Read more]

Wine Time: Blood, Sweat, and Tears – aka, The Grape Harvest

It’s easy to get cerebral and abstract about wine. But let’s remember one thing: it comes from grapes farmed in a vineyard—it is an agricultural product. And there is perhaps no better reminder of this than the actual grape harvest, which is taking place all over the Northern Hemisphere in these early-to-mid-autumn months. In the … [ Read more]

5 Exceptional Minnesota Wines for the Harvest Season

September is harvest time for our local grape-growers and it’s an excellent month to head out to the vineyard. You might catch a glimpse of the harvest in progress, and some wineries even organize days for the public to help out. It’s hard work but a satisfying experience—being out amongst the vines on a breezy … [ Read more]

Pour It On: The porron offers a splashy, exuberant way to share wine and cocktails with friends

The narrow-spouted glass wine pitcher known as the porron has its origins in Catalonian food traditions, where it cuts a fine figure at spring onion festivals. Increasingly visible worldwide and affordably available online (a classic model costs less than $30), the porron is poised to change the way we drink for the better. If you’ve … [ Read more]

What Do Minnesota Grapes Taste Like?

You’ve probably noticed our local wineries don’t grow chardonnay and cabernet grapes like their California cousins. Our wicked continental climate is only suitable for wine grapes engineered to withstand the biting cold. But in the absence of those recognizable grapes, how do you know what flavors to expect from our wines?  Here are the four … [ Read more]

Bubbles That Won’t Break the Bank: A Buyer’s Guide

In my wine-buying experience, there’s no single purchase that can be more variable and unpredictable than a mid-priced bottle of sparkling. At around $10–20, you can get nuanced, estate-driven, interesting bubbles just as easily as industrial, one-note, sickly plonk. And if you’re a newbie to the cage-cork aisle, it can be maddening to tell the … [ Read more]