North Folk Winery

Welcome to the Vinsted

Mike and Ann Tessneer, local winemakers in northeast Minnesota, started North Folk Winery 13 years ago. They began by plucking crab apples right off the trees in their backyard, and later experimented with rhubarb and eventually berry combinations. In the tradition of local vintners like Elmer Swenson, who cultivated cold climate grapes in the 1940s, the Tessneers began making wine from grapes that survive in northern climates.


Growing cold climate grapes in Minnesota-

Influenced by grape grower Elmer Swenson and the University of Minnesota, the first propagators of a grape that endures cold climates, the Tessneers began producing grape wines from grapes that are more resistant to disease. The science of winemaking or oenology, and yes, it's a science, has become extremely popular with degree programs being offered in colleges and universities in the United States.

Swenson, an immigrant farmer of Swedish descent and a viticulture pioneer is considered the father/grandfather of cold climate grape cultivation in the state. Elmer was inspired to grow grapes by his grandfather, so grape growing became a family tradition handed down generation-to-generation. Elmer's goal was to create hardy, disease resistant, table quality wine. His first attempt at grape crosses was in 1943. Swenson used the varieties he had handy such as the Janesville from Grandpa's vineyard, named after a city in Wisconsin, and some Vitis riparia, or V. riparia, a river bank grape that survives in the wild in northern climates.

The Tessneers now grow and process cold climate hybrid grapes, including Frontenac, Marquette and La Crescent, developed at the University of Minnesota. North Folk Winery features reds that include: Blackhawk Red, Petite Sirah, Sabrevois, and Marquette and whites: Frontenac Gris, Blackhawk White, Riesling, and La Crescent.


Wine History-

Chemical analysis at archeological digs containing wine residue dates back to the Neolithic period (8,500-4,000 B.C.). The history of wine continues to follow the path of human society and culture across the globe.

Maybe as a result of watching birds and animals eating macerated fruit pulp, Paleolithic Age hunter-gatherers are said to have made a "Stone Age Beaujolais nouveau" from naturally fermented grapes in the wild.

We are still repeating the ancient process of oenology, harvesting, de-stemming, crushing and fermenting fruit into wine, in kitchens by home crafters and at wineries world-wide,


North Folk Wines- 

The North Folk Winery's Marquette comes from a red grape with a long lineage: a cousin of Frontenac, grandson of Pinot Noir and cross of hybrid grapes similar to ones use by Elmer Swenson. Marquette is resistant to many grape diseases, is cold weather tolerant and has a manageable growth habit that helps make it a hardy survivor in harsh winters.

North Folk Winery's La Crescent white grape is a combination of St. Pepin and an Elmer Swenson selection from V. riparia x Muscat Hamburg. The trunks of this variety can withstand frigid minus 34 degree temperatures. Fairly disease resistant and cold climate tolerant, La Crescent is similar to a Riesling in taste.

The Winery also features an English hard Cider the Tessneers call the Scrumpy. It's made from apples with a lower alcohol concentrate than wine. Cider generally has an alcohol concentration of 6% or less. Alcohol concentration in wine is 5% to 21 % depending on the wine.

The process at North Folk depends on the fruit. From vineyard to table, fruit and grape white wines are bulk aged and bottle aged one year, and for red grape wines, the process lasts for two years.

One of the winery's specialty wines, new to the shelf in 2014, is their Two Springer Blackberry Dessert Wine. This particular dessert wine is extremely popular, according to Mike and Ann!


The Vinsted-

One of the unique features of the North Folk Vineyard's wine tasting room is its timber frame structure.

In 2012 more than 30 friends and family members volunteered their time at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota to cut the joinery for the timbers. The timbers were then shipped to the winery where another big group of volunteers gathered over a weekend for the timber raising.

The North House Folk School is all about community, learning the Scandinavian way "folkehøjskole" and crafting with traditional methods and tools.

The scale and craftsmanship of the exposed wood trusses at the North Folk Winery tasting room create an inviting Vinsted, which extends out to a deck and crush pad/dance floor for additional seating and entertaining.

More than just a winery, the Vinsted is a gathering place, a comfortable home-away-from-home kind of place to meet-up with friends and even host your own event. The beautifully crafted timbered interior.has a mellow vibe. Wall surfaces are even cieled with timber wainscoting. Definitely an architectual treasure, the North Folk Winery will always be a social, community meeting place.







When to go-

North Folk Winery is open May through December, Friday 3-8, Saturday 12-6, and Sunday 12-5. There's a Gourmet Pizza Night every Friday night from 5-8 with home-baked pizzas baked right in a brick pizza oven in the winery's backyard.

Northfolk Winery offers live entertainment every Friday night. The winery has become a real destination for people looking for something fun to do on the week-end. In addition to North Folk Winery's regular schedule, they also book special events throughout the summer.

This year the Winery is doing their second annual Folk Music Concert Series) and three author events sponsored by our local independent bookseller, Scout and Morgan Books. The tasting room space is also available to rent for meetings and special occasions.