The Sip on Local Wine

We’re calling on YOU to help bring more local wine into area restaurants!

This guest post is provided by Lauren Voigt, Minnesota Uncorked™
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Minnesota Wines ARE Minnesota Grown!

Minnesota Farm Wineries are required by statute to source at least 51% of their fruit from Minnesota growers, supporting thousands of acres of vineyards across the state, and hundreds of jobs.  Minnesota wines truly are a boon to our local economy!

Farm-to-table dining is a strong and growing movement — yet Tami Bredeson, President of Carlos Creek Winery notes that the “local food movement has pushed farm fresh produce to the menus of top restaurants, [but it] stops short when it comes to local wines.”  Having taken a close look at leading Twin Cities restaurant menus, she adds that “even restaurants hailed as leaders in local sourcing often have few, if any, local wines”. (For more reading, check out Where’s the Local on the Wine List?)

Since Minnesota wines have been racking up medals across national and international competitions in recent years, we can only make assumptions on the why more aren’t seen on restaurant menus. Here are a few of the challenges:

Local Sourcing = More Effort?

Many local wineries self-distribute, which can make sourcing more effort for a restaurant than simply calling up a distributor and placing an order for non-local wines.  And, who wants more work?

While this is a challenge, there are benefits to compensate including the opportunity to taste and learn about the wines directly from the proprietor — who in some cases will deliver your order personally — to having the option to place smaller orders as frequently (or infrequently) as needed.

Lack of Familiarity?

The University of Minnesota Extension reported that from 2011 to 2015 the number visitors to Minnesota’s Wineries doubled — and revenue increased to $80.6 million in economic activity, from $53.6 just four years earlier (source).

This suggests to me that twice as many restaurant patrons may also more familiar with Minnesota’s wines today as they were just a couple years ago — and willing to spend money on them, too. The trend continues to rise!

Having visited a tasting room doesn’t necessarily mean you’re familiar enough with local wine to order it from a restaurant menu, though — and even less likely the server will have much background on it to offer. Familiarity with cold climate wine varieties is a widely acknowledged concern — and really, the industry is just getting to know the potential of these new wines as well!

As Drew Horton, the Enology Specialist with the University of Minnesota put it, “most of these grapes are so new, we hardly know where to begin in describing, or categorizing” — referring to understanding the flavor profiles of cold climate wines.

Minnesota Uncorked is taking a stab at working with the U of M on documentation to help consumers understand local wine (and to help the professional industry pair them for their menus, and describe them for consumers) — we expect to have that coming out over the summer, and you can keep an eye out for it here.

Join the Drink Local Wine Movement!

Minnesota Uncorked in conjunction with Minnesota Grown are encouraging a “drink local” movement calling for more local wines to be carried on restaurant menus, by enlisting YOU to help encourage restaurants to carry them!

“Table talk” cards are available from Minnesota Grown and will be mailed to you FREE upon request by contacting Kristin at Kristin.liepold@state.mn.us.

Table talk cards will help you to start the conversation about local wine the next time you’re dining out: If local wine isn’t available on the menu, simply present the card to your server, and suggest they consider adding local wine to their menu.  Ask them to give the card to the restaurant manager, or manager of the wine program.

Minnesota Grown winery members will also have cards available for you to pick up in their tasting rooms by the end of May - view the directory here.

Support Establishments Already Pouring Local

We’ve rounded up over 150 area restaurants already pouring local wine — so, stop in for a sip and show your love for local!  Map available, here.

If you’ve got any tips on establishments we’ve missed, drop a line to: news@mnuncorked.com so we can get them added.

#MNwinedining

Join us in using #mnwinedining on social media to share your favorite pairings, restaurants, and photos of local wines in the glass or on the menu!