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University of Minnesota hires new Enology Specialist

Posted on September 28, 2016

Drew Horton has been active in the wine industry for over 25 years, having started as a wine salesman and then as a winemaker. With a BA in Anthropology and early career experience working in kitchens, Drew brings a unique perspective at the intersection of food, culture, and of course wine. Mr. Horton has produced award-winning vintages in Santa Barbara, California before moving to Minnesota in 2010 where he began working with cold-hardy hybrid grapes. His very first Minnesota white wine garnered a gold medal at the Riverside International Competition in California. In 2015, Drew moved from commercial wine making to providing outreach and extension services as a field specialist for the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. “I’m excited to have Drew on board. We have a lot of growth in the Minnesota industry, and Drew will be able to provide leadership and expertise to continually elevate the quality of wines being produced and sold here,” said Matthew Clark, grape breeding and enology project leader.

Drew now joins the University of Minnesota Grape Breeding and Enology Project, a research group that has been involved in developing cold hardy cultivars for wine production and leading the way with applied research for the best enological practices for making wines with regional grapes. The varieties ‘Frontenac’, ‘Marquette’, ‘La Crescent’, and now ‘Itasca’ were first developed at the fruit breeding plots and research winery at the Horticultural Research Center in Excelsior, Minnesota. When asked about why cold-hardy wines, Horton said, “I’m thrilled to be in Minnesota. The Midwest is where so many exciting things are happening in the wine industry right now, and I want to be part of that.”

Mr. Horton will bring his expertise in wine making and outreach to this new position as an Enology Specialist. In 2016, the Grape Breeding Program is targeted to make 75 experimental wines, and collect data on a number of promising breeding selections. Drew will also engage with and provide University and Extension resources to winemakers across the state. This includes troubleshooting, planning, and evaluating wine making processes for Minnesota’s farm wineries. Drew has expertise in fermentation techniques, barrel-ageing, blending, and specialty winemaking techniques. Additionally, Drew intends to offer courses and workshops that appeal to the needs of wine makers, from amateur to professional. “I’m a hands-on winemaker, always looking for the best, often "homemade" and low-tech, solutions to solve winemaking challenges and issues,” Horton said.

Drew can be contacted at: email: dhorton@umn.edu phone: 507-995- 2803

Regions: The Plains, USA; Great Lakes, USA

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