Forestedge Winery

Filed in Destinations, Food and Wine by on November 27, 2014

by Heidi Kratzke | Photo Source: forestedgewinery.com

 

CI.IMG_1578Nestled among dense woods at the edge of the Paul Bunyan State Forest is Forestedge Winery. With bountiful gardens, a cobblestone patio area and a tasting room, it is a perfect setting for an afternoon outing with family and friends.

 

The winery is located near Laporte, Minn. Owners Paul and Sharon Shuster and John Wildmo fulfilled a longtime dream and opened the winery to the public in August of 2000. They now produce more than 5,000 gallons of wine each year.

 

Prior to opening the winery, John was a Volkswagen service manager and Paul and Sharon had a business crafting wooden spoons. The trio first connected through a mutual love for Volkswagens. Years before the winery was built, Paul had poured a slab of concrete on his property with the intention of one day using the space for a winery.

 

Once Paul’s vision was actualized and Forestedge officially opened for business, the owners were astounded at the positive reception the winery immediately received. “We sold out of what we had in six weeks,” Paul recalls.

 

Small bath winemakers

 

More than a decade later, 35,000 bottles of wine are now produced at Forestedge each year. A tour of the facility reveals 400- and 600-gallon stainless steel tanks lining the walls of the winery’s back room. After fermentation, the wine spends CI.100_0352more than a year in the tanks, until it is aged to perfection.

 

Until a few years ago, John and Paul bottled all of the wine by hand. With the demand increasing each year, they recently purchased a bottling machine to help with the process. Sharon works as the official winemaker of the bunch, perfecting the flavors of each batch.

 

The conversion of fruit to juice and to wine, the aging, blending and bottling all happen on-site. High-quality, imported Italian equipment is used for the winemaking process. Once the wine is ready, it is available for purchase through Forestedge and at more than 100 difference Minnesota liquor stores.

 

No grapes, but lots of fruit!

 

“We’re the only winery in the state that doesn’t produce grape wine,” notes Paul. However, the absence of grapes is far from a hindrance to their operation. Last year, Forestedge was the sixth largest winery in the state.

 

CI.100_0294Forestedge wine varieties include apple, blueberry, black currant, cassis pomme, cranberry, chokecherry, headwaters classic red, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, rhubarb/blueberry, rhubarb/raspberry, strawberry, summer blush and white cranberry. Two of the best sellers are the white cranberry and black currant. Their Early Season White Cranberry Wine is an international award-winning white fruit wine made from early picked, ripe cranberries. The recommendation is to serve this medium-dry wine chilled.

 

“We do not make our wine sweet,” Sharon emphasizes. “We keep it semi-dry to dry and just make what we like.”

 

The rhubarb wine is Paul’s personal favorite. This youthfully crisp wine has a pale peach color and tart mineral aromas. It is described as “flavors of apricot and citrus ending in a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness.” The well-balanced wine is another consistent award winner.

 

Keeping it local

 

One of the main priorities all three owners share is making sure their fruit is locally sourced. “Our suppliers are mostly scattered around the northern part of the state,” Paul explains.

 

CI.Rhubard_harvest_100_0298“We use locally grown produce and Minnesota products as much as we can,” Sharon adds. The first year they were able to grow all of the fruit they needed on the winery grounds. However, as demand increased they needed to develop relationships with local growers.

 

The fruits used in the wines all grow in the North Country. Rhubarb is still grown on-site, supplemented with additional fruit when needed. The demand for fruit continues to rise, with the winery now using about 10,000 pounds of rhubarb each year.

 

Forestedge also works to support local artists. They’ve set up an art gallery on the property and the bright red building features art and fine crafts by several local artisans. Once a year, an art and music fair draws a large crowd to the grounds.

 

Forestedge Winery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. From May 1 to December 31, the winery is open for retail traffic , on- and off-site sales, wine tasting and tours. Wine can be ordered year-round by phone or via the winery’s website. The winery is located at 35295 State Highway 64, just west of Laporte.

 

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