Last night I got the opportunity to enjoy someone else’s garden.  It happened to be a winery which made it particularly fun.  Before I even looked a bottle of the harvest, I had to see the vines.  Cynthia Bahr, the proprietor of Vinmark Estates, was happy to show me around.

The vines are in neat rows about 5’ apart.  If you’ve never seen a vineyard – the plants look like old sticks coming out of the ground with lush green vines above all connected to a strong wire fence holding up the plants.  The fruit hangs low on the vines making it easier for harvest.  

Cynthia told me early Spring, while things are still chilly, is when they do the majority of their pruning.  The ‘stick’ remains, but all of last year’s growth above is pruned.  They choose two main shoots and from there, they train the plants to grow horizontally. Vinmark Estates grow two different kinds of grapes – Frontenac and Marquette (white and red), both plants created by the University of Minnesota.  

The plants looked really healthy, but I asked her if they had any problems.  Believe it or not, that darned Japanese Beetle attacks grape plants too.  Because they have honeybees on the estate, they do not use any pesticides.  They do their best to control the beetle and know that when they start with a healthy plant – nature can ward off most problems.

There are over 40 wineries listed with Minnesota Grown Events abound and wine trails are set up.  I can tell you that after the experience in the garden I had last night (and in the tasting room), I will be visiting more Minnesota wineries in the future.

Have you visited a Minnesota winery?  What was your experience?