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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Central > Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems > Expanding Minnesota's Vineyard & Winemaking Industry through Education and Research

Expanding Minnesota's Vineyard & Winemaking Industry through Education and Research

Purpose

Establish a Vineyard and pilot experimental wine making facility for research and education for students and local farmers. Train skilled and educated workers for the growing grape and wine industry.  And study methods to successfully grow winter hardy grape varieties in the north central climate.

Partners

This project is co-funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation/ Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance, which supplies $4K/year for two years for Vineyard supplies and equipment only. This grant has also been used to start a pilot winery and analysis laboratory at the Central Lakes College Staples campus.  John Thull, U of M Arboretum vineyard manager, will demonstrate husbandry techniques and bring the University‚Äôs grape vine breeding resource to Central Minnesota.

Activities

  • Establish a vineyard using experimental grape varieties, developing an actual vineyard to demonstrate common practices
  • Use the vineyard for college training, high school training, gardening clubs, citizens and industry training.
  • Prepare the vineyard site: test soil, deep tillage and grading. Apply soil amendments as required. Glyphosate spray to remove competitive plants.
  • Plant Vineyard: Layout spacing with trellis and perimeter fencing. Irrigation plan in place before planting vines and fertilizer application.
  • Maintenance: Pesticide and herbicide tactics used to optimize plant growth, with possible mechanical /manual techniques.    
  • Harvest grapes and make wines that would be tested for quality. Possible sale of grapes at local farmers market or to winemakers.

Outcomes

Students will be able to complete studies for a certificate, AAS degree or to transfer to a 4-year degree program. Farmers will be encouraged to grow grapes and start farm wineries.

Funding

Year 1: $15,000 from the CRSDP
Year 2: $15,000 from the CRSDP

Leveraged resources

Year 1:
VESTA-NSF Grant $4,000
Central Lakes College (in-kind) $3,000
Central Lakes C. Ag. Center (in-kind) $2,500

Year 2:
VESTA-NSF Grant $4,000
Central Lakes College (in-kind) $3,000
Central Lakes C. Ag. Center (in-kind) $2,500
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