We pride ourselves on making hand-crafted wines from high quality cold climate grapes. Growing wine quality grapes in northern cold climates is a challenge. Fortunately there has been significant research and development to hybridize traditional wine grape varieties (vitis vinifera) with robust native American varieties (vitis riparia). The University of Minnesota has been a long-standing leader in this research. More recently, North Dakota State University has initiated a grape breeding program to develop wine grapes suitable for the even harsher climates found in the upper great plains.
At 4e Winery we are growing the red Frontenac grape.
Many of our grapes we use in our wines come from Molly’s Vineyard in Erskine, MN, who grows grapes exclusively for 4e Winery. They provide us with Prairie Star, La Crescent, Frontenac Gris, Frontenac and King of the North grapes. We also source other grapes from around the region. Here are the grapes that make up our current wines in progress:
RED WINE GRAPES
Frontenac is one of the first red wine grapes produced for cold climates released in 1996. It is extremely cold hardy, vigorous and makes crisp dry red and delicious fruity rosé wines. (4e estate 80 vines planted May 24, 2014)
Marquette was released by the University of Minnesota in 2006 and it has been rapidly adopted in vineyards across the upper US and Canada. Its popularity is due to its excellent qualities for wine including structured tannins, deep red color and complex flavors and aromas. It helps that the vines will survive temperatures down to -36°F! Marquette is a hybrid grandson of Pinot Noir.
Petite pearl is one of the more recent red wine grapes for northern climates. It was developed by Tom Plocher beginning in 1996 and was first released for sale in 2012. It produces small tight clusters of berries with a high skin to juice ratio providing a complex, spicy and jammy wine with rounded tannins.
King of the North
King of the North is what we make our popular Bison Tale with. These grapes are full of labrusca grape flavor and make a sweet tart wine.
WHITE WINE GRAPES
Brianna is a white wine grape produced by pioneering Wisconsin grape breeder Elmer Swenson. It produces large clusters of golden to greenish-golden grapes. It is especially ideal for making refreshing semi-sweet wines displaying fruity aromas of peaches and pineapple.
Frontenac blanc is the most recent member of the family of Frontenac grapes. It maintains its cold hardy and vigorous characteristics in a delicious white grape variety. The yellow gold grapes produce distinctive wines with fresh fruit flavors.
Frontenac gris is another member of the family of Frontenac grapes. It is a natural mutation of the red frontenac producing a slightly pink grape. It makes a delicious sweet white wine that is full of tropical flavors.
This grape usually expresses a fruity floral quality that is reminiscent of a reisling or gewürztraminer.
Prairie Star is a French/American hybrid grape with a light green color. It makes a dry crisp white wine.