Growing Grapes in Minnesota

Grapes can be grown all throughout Minnesota if the right varieties are cultivated according to the demands of each area. The best part to grow grapes in this region is southern Minnesota, along the Mississippi, Cannon, and St. Croix river valleys. This region is located at a similar latitude as the Bordeaux region in northern France and enjoys warm summers, adequate rainfall, and sandy soils well-suited for growing grapes. It is recommended that grapes be planted during the early spring to give ample time for the grapes to ripen. In the northern parts of Minnesota, where the climate is essentially colder than anywhere else in the state, only the most cold-hardy grapes can be grown, and they should ripen quickly enough to avoid late spring frosts and freezing winters. Growers should plant their vines on southern mountain slopes because this allows the most amount of heat and sunlight to quicken the heightening process. Researchers and horticulturalists in Minnesota have been doing their best to come up with hybrid grape varieties that can withstand the climate of the region. Among them are Edelweiss, St. Pepin, and LaCrosse for white wines and St. Croix for red wine. All were developed by noted horticulturalist Elmer Swenson. The University of Minnesota has also produced the red wine variety Frontenac, which has gained commercial success in 1996.

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