MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –Cold-hardy wine aficionados and experts gathered at the University of Minnesota on Thursday to judge wines from this rapidly-growing part of the industry.

A total of 350 different types of wine are blind tested in the International Cold Climate Wine Competition, with each judge testing 50 wines.

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The annual competition is in its eighth year, and judges say that competitions like this benefit both the grower and consumer.

“If you’re asked to pay to pay $20 for a bottle of wine you’ve never heard of, never know anything about, but it got a medal in a competition, you’re willing to try it,” said Ellie Butz, of Purdue Wine Studies.

Experts say cold-hardy wines have come a long way in the past 15 years as far as taste, specifically regarding acidity.

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“So we have newer wine grapes that produce lower acid wines, and then we have wine makers with much more experience making those wine styles,” said Matt Clark, a professor of grape breeding at the University of Minnesota Horticulture Department.

In this cutting edge and rapidly growing industry, the progress in cold-hardy wines is a welcome boost for local wine lovers, vineyards and wineries.

The winners of Thursday’s competition have not yet been released. Although we can’t give out names of the wines, there are a number of different varieties from Minnesota in the competition.

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The results of the competition will be released Thursday night.