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A Best of Minnesota toast: Area wineries make statewide top 10 list

It takes a hardy vine to survive in the Midwest. Although Falconer Vineyards in Red Wing mainly uses cold-hardy grapes developed by the University of Minnesota such as Frontenac, grape crops are not guaranteed each year. When the vines produce, they can result in some award-winning wine. Maureen McMullen/RiverTown Multimedia

Three area wineries have been named to Minnesota's top 10 by the Best of Minnesota website.

Alexis Bailly Vineyards of Hastings leads the way at No. 1. Founded in the late 1970s, "the granddaddy of Minnesota wineries" as the website calls it, Alexis Bailly stakes claim to being the first commercial winery to grow and use grapes grown in the state.

"Although it's been best known for its dessert wines, Bailly's maturing vineyards are now producing grapes that make smooth and complex reds," the judges note.

Falconer Vineyards of Red Wing ranks No. 5, according to Best of Minnesota, after Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, WineHaven Winery in Chisago City and Northern Vineyards in Stillwater. Falconer gets a special callout for its Frontenac rosé, voted best white wine by the Minnesota Grape Growers Association.

The vineyard pairs its growing wine list with oven-fired pizzas served on a large deck overlooking 6 1/2 acres of vines tucked into the bluffland.

"We will be opening our pizza oven first week of May," John Falconer said.

Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls claimed the No. 7 spot just behind Croix Vineyards in Stillwater. The judges also rated the winery's white wines highly.

Cannon River makes its Classic White using chardonnay grapes grown near Sogn, 20 miles to the south.

Millner Heritage Vineyard in Kimball, Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm and Wild Mountain Winery in Taylor's Falls round out the list.

Minnesota has between 30 and 40 wineries, depending on how they are categorized. Some make wine using fruits other than grapes.

For more information about the rankings, visit https://bestthingsmn.com.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

(651) 301-7870
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