ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Minnesota wineries have begun teaming up with hotels and restaurants to promote California-style tours, saying the industry is finally established enough to create a larger tourist destination.
The Minnesota Grape Growers Association is holding its annual Cold Climate Conference this weekend in St. Paul. Members there said they're just beginning to touch on ways to draw more tourists to the area, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (http://bit.ly/Oo29o2 ).
For example, Wild Mountain Winery in Taylors Falls teamed up with three neighboring wineries to launch the Upper St. Croix Valley Wine Trail. They're hoping to lure day-trippers and wine lovers who'll stop at each of the four destinations, said Irv Geary, head wine-maker at Wild Mountain.
Geary said the wineries teamed up with limousine companies to offer a tour. He said the offering, coupled with hotels, restaurants and state parks, makes the region even more of a tourist destination.
The industry has grown substantially in the last few decades. From a single licensed winery in 1976, the state now has 43, and industry experts predict continued growth.
A lot of the credit goes to the University of Minnesota. Researchers there have bred cold-tolerant grape varieties that can endure a northern winter and still produce a quality wine.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com