ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (WCCO) — With 160 acres of rolling hills and grape vines, Carlos Creek Winery is the type of place where you can you forget you’re in Minnesota.
But make no mistake, this is Minnesota wine.
“These are Valiant grapes,” said Kim Bredeson, pointing out one of the many grape varieties grown on their Alexandria vineyards. “Extremely cold hearty. Probably the heartiest one that we have.”
“That is clearly what sets us apart is what we term cold climate grapes,” said Tami Bredeson. “They will tend to harvest with higher acidity and higher sugar levels, and we always think that our winemakers have a much more complex job.”
Carlos Creek’s senior winemaker Russ Funk has been working with wine since 1999, before he was old enough to drink it.
“Wine making takes a lot of patience,” Funk said. “Sometimes years before you actually get to drink it the way you want.”
Carlos Creek’s wines have won dozens of awards. Most recently, their “You Betcha Blush” won Rosé Wine of the Year in the Indy International Wine Competition.
But the wine world is still relatively new to owners Kim and Tami Bredeson.
“Our love of wine really started in a rather strange way,” Tami said. “We were pretty much Franzia boxed wine drinkers, or maybe Labatt’s beer.”
That changed when Kim, whose woodworking you can see all throughout the winery’s tasting room, made a mantel for Napa’s Robert Mondavi corporation. As a thank you, Mondavi sent them a $180 bottle of Opus One.
“That just started us on a path, we were very curious,” Tami said. “What could make a wine worth $180 a bottle, when…$18 will buy you five liters.”
That path eventually led them to buy Carlos Creek Winery, where they’ve been watching the Minnesota wine industry grow since 2008.
“In California, there are decades of history about how to do what,” Kim said. “In Europe there are hundreds of years of history about how things work. But in Minnesota, we’re still experimenting.”
In addition to their wines, there are also lots of events at the winery. Their annual Grape Stomp is next month, and on September 28, in honor of their Hot Dish Red, they’re having Hot Dish Day. In an effort to make Hot Dish the official food of Minnesota, they’re going to try and break the Guinness World Record for the largest Hot Dish.
You can find more about what’s going on at Carlos Creek Winery here.