River View Vineyard growing grapes made at University of MN - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

River View Vineyard growing grapes made at University of Minn.

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LA CRESCENT, MN (WXOW)—You don't see a lot of wineries in the Midwest because of the climate; but in recent years new grape varieties have made it possible.

Brad Helstad, Owner of River View Vineyard and Winery, invested his retirement savings, ten years ago, into 200 vines.

"We went to a Saturday seminar in February and they showed how to build a trellis, which varieties grow in our region. They were promoting the University of Minnesota varieties," Helstad said.

"They've been really concentrating on really trying to find varieties that are going to be much heartier to our climate and our condition and our humidity," Steve Huntzicker, UW-Extension Agriculture Agent said.

The climate in the Midwest would freeze grapes like chardonnay, typically grown in Europe and California.

On the other hand, our soil is better to grow grapes because it's not as sandy as California or Europe.

"Our soil is so nutritious our plants are probably 3 to 4 feet higher than what they grow in Europe," Helstad said.

Originally, River View set out just to grow the grapes but because gas prices were so high to send the grapes to the processor they decided to do that right here.

"After crushing and de-stemming the wine is transferred into these vats," Helstad said.

1500 gallons of wine sits for 30 days and then it's transferred into another tank because the yeast dies and settles at the bottom.

Helstad said taking the lid off the wine releases a great aroma and he hopes it's transferred into the flavor.

He would like to see more people growing the grapes developed for the Midwest because he thinks it will help increase tourism.

"We're not quite like Napa Valley yet where there's a winery at every corner. We're still kind of spread out," Helstad said.

River View Vineyard and Winery is open for wine tasting through around thanksgiving time.

To learn more about the vineyard click here.

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