Winehaven Winery won 6 medals at the International Eastern Wine Competition in California last week. Winehaven’s Stinger Mead and Cranberry Wines earned gold medals with scores of 95 and 93 respectively. These wines went on to compete against other gold medal winning wines from around the country in the highly competitive “East Meets West Wine Challenge” that pits the best wines from the Eastern United States against the best from the West. In that round, the Stinger Mead was judged to be Best in Class. The judges conducted a final blind tasting of the Best in Class winners and awarded Winehaven’s Stinger Mead the title of Best of Show.
Founded in 1975, the International Eastern Wine Competition is the longest running Wine Competition in the United States. Twenty-four judges throughout North America evaluated the wines. Their decision was based on the wine’s appearance, aroma, flavor and aftertaste. In addition to Winehaven’s gold medal winning Stinger Mead and Cranberry wines, Winehaven won silver medals with its Marquette Reserve, Nokomis, Chisago and Franconia red wines that are exclusively made from grapes grown in the Chisago Lakes Area.
Honey wine, also known as “mead,” is widely regarded as the ancestor of all fermented beverages. It is referenced in many sources of ancient history throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Winemaker Kevin Peterson has raised honey in the Chisago Lakes Area for more than 50 years. The honey wine was the winery’s first wine selection when the Peterson family opened WineHaven’s doors in 1995.
The Best of Show award marks the seventh time that Winehaven’s Stinger honey wine has won top honors nationally. It is made from Peterson’s special blend of honey that is collected from local wildflowers and basswood trees. Basswood honey is relatively rare throughout the world because the trees bloom for less than two weeks during the summertime. If the conditions are warm and humid enough in the St. Croix River Valley, the blossoms open enough to produce nectar. “It’s a honey with a special pizzazz,” said Peterson. “The beautiful flavor of the basswood honey really comes through in our wine.”
A complete listing of the award winning wines is listed below:
Stinger Mead: Double Gold Medal - Best of Class and Best of Show
Cranberry Wine: Gold Medal
Nokomis: Silver Medal
Marquette Reserve: Silver Medal
Deer Garden Red: Silver Medal
Franconia: Silver Medal
There is no wine competition that excites us more than San Francisco. It’s like sending our wines into the lion’s den. The competition is fierce! All the ‘big guys’ enter wines in San Francisco. The judges come from all corners of the wine world. This year, five of our wines emerged from the competition with medals! Our Stinger Mead was declared the best mead in the competition with a gold medal (again). Our Nokomis, Deer Garden Red and Merlot won silver medals. Our Nicollet won a bronze medal! We’re so proud of all of our awards and delighted that our Minnesota wines have been recognized as some of the best in the world!
Winehaven won 11 medals at the International Eastern Wine Competition in New York. The Strawberry-Rhubarb and Raspberry Wines earned top honors with scores of 94 and 92 respectively. The Nicollet white wine from the newly patented Nicollet grape received its first award ever - a silver. The newly bottled 2017 Nokomis wine won a silver medal competing in the $40.00 per bottle and higher category. A complete listing of the award winning wines is listed below:
Strawberry-Rhubarb Wine: Gold Medal
Raspberry Wine: Gold Medal
Nokomis: Silver Medal
Nicollet: Silver Medal
Marquette Reserve: Silver Medal
Marechal Foch: Silver Medal
Lakeside Rosé: Silver Medal
LaCrescent: Silver Medal
Cranberrry Wine: Silver Medal
Frontenac Gris: Bronze Medal
Deer Garden Red: Bronze Medal
Winehaven Winery, of Chisago City, was recently awarded two U.S. Patents for its work in developing new grapevines that have a unique combination of winter hardiness, vigor, disease resistance and wine quality. In keeping with tradition, the grapevines are named ‘Franconia,’ and ‘Nicollet’ after the regions from which they originated. According to U.S. Patent Office records, both vines are winter hardy to at least -40 degrees Fahrenheit, making them among the most cold-tolerant grapevines known.
Fruit from the Franconia grape was nicknamed “big blue” during Winehaven’s trials because they are exceptionally large, dark blue grapes, that exude black cherry and deep berry flavors. The Nicollet grapevine produces white wine grapes with intense tropical flavors. Wine from the Nicollet grape is off-dry and contains intense flavors and aromas of pear, honeysuckle and apple.
The ‘Franconia’ and ‘Nicollet’ grapevines are the result of Winehaven’s grape research program that began over twenty-five years ago. At that time, there were very few winter hardy grapevines suitable for wine production in Minnesota. Unlike neighboring states, Minnesota law requires its wineries to produce the majority of their wine from locally grown fruit. As such, bringing in large amounts of grapes from elsewhere was not possible. Accordingly, Winehaven patented the ‘Chisago’ grape in 2008 and the ‘Nokomis’ grape in 2013. Wines made from these grapevines have already won more than 20 awards at national wine competitions.
The U.S. Patent Office determined the ‘Nicollet’ and ‘Franconia’ grapevines were novel over existing grapevines, and issued U.S. Plant Patents 31,039 and 31,040, respectively, for the vines on November 12, 2019. The ‘Nicollet’ and ‘Franconia’ grapevines are among less than 300 grapevines patented in the United States. Less than a dozen of these varieties were developed by U.S. wineries.
Inventors Kevin and Kyle Peterson believe the new ‘Franconia’ and ‘Nicollet’ grapevines will enable Winehaven to begin a new chapter in its history by imparting richer and more intense flavors and aromas in its wines than was previously possible with existing local grapes and techniques.
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