- Publish Date: Aug 11, 2009
In these lazy days of summer, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn might have skipped out on painting a fence to to spend a day floating down the river. If they were around today they might have been so brash as to open a bottle of wine from America’s newest official wine-growing region.
Last month the U.S. named a new official AVA (American Viticultural Area), and no, it’s not just another area of California. This appellation brings us 2000 miles to the east of Napa to the Midwest’s very own wine country. Welcome to the world of wine from the Upper Mississippi Valley! The appellation covers 29,914 miles of southeastern Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, northwest Illinois and northeast Iowa making it the largest AVA in the US. It’s a major coup for the mid-west winemakers who continue to combat their reputation of only making fruit wines.
Although recently named an appellation, the history of this land dates back thousands of years. When massive glaciers covered most of the Midwest, they oddly missed this area, allowing different flora to flourish, including native grapes varietals that didn't exist elsewhere.
Expect to see a number of interesting hybrid grapes being grown in the Upper Mississippi Valley such as Chardonel, Edelweiss and Marechal Foch. Viticuluralists are continuing to test different hybrids that will withstand the cold winters and bear fruit that will ripen earlier.
Pay tribute to our countries newest AVA by checking out the first winery to open it's doors in the region-1978: Alexis Bailly Vineyard