Midwest Wine Press Reviews Cold Climate Conference 2014
The Cold Climate Conference Winter Wine Fest was a delight for the senses. Fabulous Minnesota wines from all over the state were served alongside delectable bites and samples of food from a wide variety of vendors.
Held on February 21 at the Crowne Plaza in St. Paul, the Winter Wine Fest featured 12 food exhibitors alongside 26 wineries, showcasing the best fruits of their labor.
Emily Coleman, owner of Vine Appetit, sampled her jellies made from wine, sugar and pectin. No preservatives are added. The wine flavors Vine Appetit currently offers are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pink Rosé and Winter Mulled.
I got to sample some of their cherry almond jelly, which was combined with mascarpone cheese on a Ritz cracker. Who knew this recipe of jelly, cheese, and a cracker would taste so divine when paired with a crisp Minnesota wine?
There were many items to bid on at the Elmer Swenson silent auction. Boxed sets of Riedel wine glasses, award winning bottles of wine packaged in decorative packaging, books on wine, gift certificates from Midwest Brewing, chocolates and more.
Another part of the Cold Climate Conference was the Winter Wine Out on Thursday night. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with this tour of St. Paul restaurants that feature Minnesota wines. (A blizzard commenced on the Thursday afternoon of the Winter Wine Out and proceeded to drop over a foot of snow.)
Despite the snow, local restaurants paired Minnesota wines with food inspired by local chefs. Heartland Restaurant, Faces Mears Park, Kincaid’s Restaurant, Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant, and Restaurant 11 all participated in the Winter Wine Out.
The local wines that were presented were stellar. Inclued were: Schram Vineyards Marquette; Chankaska Creek’s Kasota Rose; Indian Island’s La Crescent; Painted Prairie Vineyard’s Frontenac; and Sovereign Estate’s La Crescent.
At Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant, seared scallops were paired with La Crescent, while Marquette was paired with veal medallions. For dessert, Chankaska Creek’s Kasota Rose was paired with a Frangelico Pecan Pie with caramel sauce.
A goal of the Winter Wine Out is to get more local restaurants to experiment with Minnesota wines. Anthony Davis, the beverage manager with Kincaid’s Restaurant, said, ‘Normally, we do not carry any Minnesota wines. That was one of the main reasons for our decision to participate in the Winter Wine Out. Adding some Minnesota wines to our list for this event gave us an idea of how well they are doing in the market without having to undergo menu changes.”
Davis said he is warming up to cool climate wines. ‘There are a few varietals I enjoy from the region. My favorite is Marquette. I was also a fan of Chankaska’s Kasota Rose…it has a good mineral note to counter the honeysuckle flavors. That helped with our pairing decisions and was a nice option.”
Winners of the Winter Wine Fest People’s Choice Awards
Best Marquette- Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery
Best White- Heritage Vineyard and Winery- Little Iza
Best Booth- Heritage Vineyard and Winery
Best Dessert Wine- St. Croix Vineyards- Frontenac Port
Best Elmer Swenson Variety- Wild Mountain Winery- Mountain Sweet White