Across Minnesota, the nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and grapes are ripening on their vines as harvest season pushes summer out the door. All the hours spent tending to their vineyards come to fruition at harvest and beyond for Minnesota vintners, so it’s no wonder many of them mark this time of year with celebrations, a tradition that dates back to the ages of the Egyptians and Greeks.
We’ve covered before how the quality of cold-hardy wines has grown exponentially in the last five or six years, and that local wineries are accruing a much better grasp on growing and bottling new wine grape varieties like Frontenac, Edelweiss, La Crescent, Marquette, and the recently released Itasca, all of which are suited to the upper Midwest. In Minnesota alone the number of wineries has more than doubled in the past five years to over 70.
During grape harvest season in September and October, several wineries across the state invite the public to join harvest teams to help pick grapes to be used in wine production. It’s a fun process to be involved in, as The Growler crew learned last year at Schram Vineyards. This year, both Falconer Vineyards in Red Wing and Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls are taking registrations for people to join their picking crews over the next month.
Additional harvest events taking place at wineries across the state include:
Art Wander Weekend, Parley Lake Winery and Sovereign Estates Vineyards and Winery in Waconia, Sept. 23-25
Take in art from local artists, listen to live music, tour the wineries, and sample their wines. More info on the event overall and what Parley Lake and Sovereign Estates have planned individually.
Grape Stomp 2016, Crow River Winery in Hutchinson, Sept. 24
Step back in time for an old-fashioned grape stomp, including fun for the whole family. Activities include: Itty Bitty Stompin’, the Grape Stomp Competition, the Lucy Contest, Trash the Dress (Minnesota grape style) and the Championship Stomp. More info.
Harvest Fest Fun Day, Glacial Ridge Winery in Spicer, Sept. 25
A day full of activities for all ages: pumpkin painting, bobbing for apples, corn kiddie pool, scavenger hunt, fall craft tables, and more. More info.
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Cambria Crush: The Annual Great Grape Stomp, Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm, Oct. 1-2
Voted the best fall event in Southern Minnesota by Explore Minnesota. Take off your shoes and get ready to dance. Costumes are encouraged. More info.
Harvest Bonfire, Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery in Waconia, Oct. 15
This annual tradition is an all day event for the first time this year and will feature live music, food trucks, a s’mores bar, special wine and beer releases, cigar rolling, games, and raffles. The bonfire in the vineyard will be lit at dusk. More info.
The Roaring 20’s Masquerade Ball, Indian Island Winery in Janesville, Oct. 22
Channel the roaring 20s for a night of fun, including wine tasting and dancing. Don’t forget your mask. More info.
Federweisser & Roter Rauscher Festival, Winehaven Winery in Chisago City, Oct. 22-23
Enjoy Winehaven’s German-style festival and sample some of the wine made from the 2016 harvest. More info.