Painted Prairie Vineyard produces medal-winning wine
CURRIE -- A 2012 Frontenac wine produced by a southwest Minnesota vineyard earned a silver medal in the 2013 International Cold Climate Wine Competition Aug. 16 at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul conference center.
Ben and Kim Hause, owners of Painted Prairie Vineyard in rural Currie, entered three wines in the contest -- their first entries since they began making wine three years ago from the grapes grown in their vineyard. The vineyard, established in 2006, now has nearly 1,000 vines, consisting of three varieties -- LaCrescent, Frontenac and Marquette.
Nearly 300 wines were entered in this year's competition, with about half of them receiving honors. There were 15 wines given gold medals, with Painted Prairie's Frontenac wine given one of 55 silver awards. Another 93 wine entries were given bronze medals.
"This is a large competition with wineries from around the U.S. and Canada that is focused on wines made from grapes grown in northern climates," Ben Hause said. "It's probably the biggest competition for cold grapes.
"We're happy to get a medal for one of them," he added.
The international wine competition is hosted each year by the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota, which "has a vested interest in the industry" because of its research and development in cold-climate grape hybrids, Hause said.
Painted Prairie Vineyard grows grapes developed by the University of Minnesota, and now uses the vast majority of that fruit to produce its wines.
"We have three different varieties of grapes that give us five different wines," Hause said, adding that the sixth wine produced at Painted Prairie is made from a grape variety grown in Iowa.
"We're still experimenting to see what our customers like," he added.
From LaCrescent grapes, Hause said Painted Prairie produces a white wine, while Frontenac grapes create a red wine and the Marquette produces a sweet red wine and rosé.
"The grapes like to have a hot, dry season," Hause said, adding that the 2012 growing season was ideal for their vineyard.
"Last year we had the best crop ever, and we now have the best wine ever," he said. "The wines really turned out good this year."
With this summer's cooler-than-average temperatures, Hause said grape development is about a month behind compared to last year.
"This year we're probably looking at the end of September before picking," he said. "With the cool summer, the grapes are slow to ripen."
The wines produced at Painted Prairie Vineyard can be found at area restaurants and liquor stores within a 45-mile radius of Currie. Worthington's municipal liquor store carries wines from Painted Prairie.
"About 90 percent of our sales are out at the winery," Hause said, adding that Painted Prairie Vineyard is open every weekend in June through mid-October.
"We have a tasting room and people can come out and taste wines and also buy bottles to take home," he said.