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, the first brewery in Chaska in over 60 years. Now their next project, AxeBridge Wine Company, is taking them straight to the heart of Minneapolis in the North Loop.
“When we decided to expand to have two wineries, I thought let’s bring it to an area that is up and coming, and where nothing like this exists today,” says Aaron Schram. “North Loop seemed to be a great fit with all the restaurants, breweries, and people that appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that we will have with our wines and space.”
AxeBridge Wine Company will be the third urban winery in Minneapolis behind Urban Forage Winery and Cidery in the Longfellow neighborhood and Number 12 Cider in the North Loop, respectively. But it will be the North Loop’s first winery to produce grape-based wine onsite when it opens in the late spring of next year.
While Schram’s two wineries will complement each other, they decided to launch the project under a new brand name. Ashley says they made this decision because AxeBridge will have its own wine operations, and they believe the urban winery experience will be markedly different from their farm winery.
The name itself AxeBridge Wine Company is both a nod to the couple’s children, Axel and Bridget, and a metaphor for their grand vision. “Making wine in Minnesota and having an urban setting winery are two things that may still be met with skepticism. We want to cut down any preconceived notions of what a winery should be, and build the bridge from agriculture to city and bring them closer together,” Ashley explains. “We’re making locally produced wine and the experience of a winery more accessible by bridging that gap.”
Located in the Internet Exchange Building at 411 Washington Avenue, renovations are underway in the space that will feature a natural color palette and elements and textures that bring that vineyard feel indoors.
“This is a great location. We have fantastic breweries doing well and we think [the winery] will be well-received, and it’s a different concept,” says Tim Bildsoe, president of the North Loop Neighborhood Association. “What we’re seeing is a creative trend in the North Loop with media, marketing and the arts. This is a perfect fit.”
Plans for the 10,000-square-foot space includes a tasting bar, multiple lounges, private tasting rooms, a VIP club room, 3,000 square-feet for production, and an outdoor patio. A small kitchen will offer culinary options that complement the wine. The Schrams will source grapes from multiple vineyards with a focus on local growers, and ferment, bottle, and sell wine onsite.
“This isn’t just a wine bar—it is going to be an actual winery as we will be producing wine on location. We will take the elements that made our existing winery work and bring them to this new location such as tastings and tours, people seeing the wine being made, grower experiences and unique tastings from the barrel,” says Aaron.
Similarly, they will borrow from their techniques in Waconia for new and distinct wines at the North Loop winery, including a barrel program for reds, different recipes for their rosé and blushes working with the local New Itasca grape, and some out-of-state varieties from California and Washington.
“There has been tremendous progress over the last several years with Minnesota grapes as we and other quality wine producers in the state continue to win over new consumers with our varietals and quality and award-winning wines,” Ashley says. “The grapes we can grow have evolved over the last few decades and we have some really fantastic varieties to work with in winemaking right now.”