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April 16, 2013 | 1:00 PM

 

Registration opens May 17 for the 5th Annual International Cold Climate Wine Competition (ICCWC). The event takes place August 16 on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where several of the cold-hardy wine grapes were developed.

This year's competition includes categories for red, white, fortified, ice-wines, cold-hardy fruit/grape blends and, new for 2013, a separate category for Rosé wines made from the variety Frontenac. Judges participate in a blind tasting of the wines and award gold, silver and bronze medals, and best of show awards to the top red, white and specialty wines. The annual "Governor's Cup" is awarded to the favorite Minnesota wine of the internationally recognized wine experts on the judging panel.

Ron Barnes, president of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, the competition's primary sponsor, said:

"The growth in popularity of cold hardy grapes and wine is a testament to the hard work and dedication of growers and winemakers. The International Cold Climate Wine Competition continues to help our industry strive to achieve greatness and builds consumer demand for wines made from these grapes."

Jim Luby, a professor in the University of Minnesota's Department of Horticultural Science and one of the scientists developing the grapes, noted:

"The number of wineries competing in the ICCWC, and the increasing quality of the medal winning wines, proves that cold-hardy varieties are more than simply a contender for the world's appetite for wine. They are an integral part of the future of wine consumption worldwide. This competition is an opportunity for winemakers to showcase their skill and creativity in developing outstanding wines that show well on the world stage."

Minnesota's grape and wine industry last year contributed an estimated $40 million to the state's economy. Since 1995, the number of wineries in the state has grown from seven to nearly 50. Total wine sales are expected to exceed $11.3 million by 2014.

To see a complete set of rules and to register, go to www.mngrapegrowers.com/competition.

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