Monday, December 7th, 2015.

We are not taking Futures orders anymore.  The grapes are in barrels getting happy.  The wine will be ready 2017.

I hope to offer this again in the spring of 2016.

Thursday, May 21, 2015.  I am writing to announce an opportunity.  Initially, I had only approached a limited number of family and friends who share my enthusiasm of wine; but since, have had several people express interest and inquire how they may partake. So I’ll explain!    

As some of you know I am working on my “final role call” in life, which I think it is very exciting!  Please consider the information within and let me know if you are interested in securing future wines from my production.  My goal is to raise advance funds for quality fruit and secure sales for future cases of premium wines that I will be producing locally.  Consider this my “Kick Starter”.  If you know of anyone else that enjoys wine and may also be interested, feel free to pass this message along to them. 

My wife Chris and I have had the opportunity to travel to various regions of Italy and France and also intend to be in South Africa participating during the harvest in early 2016.  Most of you know I am passionate about wine!  I take it ALL in…. and I am happiest when I’m doing “anything wine”.  

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I have been learning everything I can from anyone who’s willing to share and educate.  I’ve been producing wine, making small batches at home and though it’s been fun, it is not my ultimate goal.  I believe that there is nothing better than using fresh fruit from Napa or Sonoma to produce quality wines in real French oak barrels.  I tease that a few years back I finally decided what I wanted to do “when I grow up”. But in all seriousness, my plan is to advance my skills as a winemaker while enjoying retirement and do what I love. With that goal in mind, I had to further my education. There were only a couple of schools in the world that I considered for Enology.  Thankfully UC Davis has one of the best and most flexible programs outside of Bordeaux, France and I enrolled in the fall of 2013.  Before I was admitted into their extension program I was required to write an essay to the school explaining the reasons why I wanted to join while providing reasons why they should accept me; and fortunately, I was accepted.

The first class was a general course that included studies of grape varieties, winemaking practices, bottling, and viticulture, etc. I was required to pass the class in order to move fully into the program.  I’ve taken my studies very seriously and have passed with exceptional grades.  There had been a point whereas I needed to update my chemistry before moving forward within the program.  Since I had opted out of taking those courses in college, my classes dated back to my high school days of thirty-something years ago.  UC Davis has Chemistry for Winemakers program that is very intense including many levels of testing.  I was able to test out and mastered a number of lessons as required before proceeding on.  Had I missed a lesson, it would have been required to be retaken and Chris was a trooper for those five months during the numerous quiet and devoted weekends of studying. 

I’ve since finished more Davis classes including Wine Production and Quality Control in Winemaking, and am currently wrapping up Viticulture for Winemakers.  My last course this summer will be Wine Stability and Sensory Analysis and I will then earn my certificate.  Each of the classes costs over $2000.00 with the additional expense of books and materials so I have taken this very seriously! 

Some time ago, during my Wine Production class I reached out to a local Minnesota winery called, “Two Rivers Vineyard and Winery” when I heard that they may need volunteers. Chris and I met the owner/winemaker, Mark Hedin and we hit it off right away.  Mark has been making wine since 1988 and is the proud recipient of many awards over the years for his wines. He has also been contracted over the years to make custom wines including barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel and more; all from California fruit.  Chris is particularly fond of Syrah and she and I agree that Marks is very good.  The Two Rivers Vineyard and Winery is a full production facility that includes a bottling machine, a crusher, and a de-stemmer.  It is large enough to accommodate parties and small wedding venues as well.

TR Bill and Mark Barrels awards

I have to admit that so far Chris and I are not huge fans of the Cold Hardy grape varieties, but believe that there will be a time when Mark and I grow good quality grapes here in Minnesota; and that our wine will be good as our California wines.  Although she and I share the goal to ultimately only live in Minnesota during the optimum weather months, spending time with our family – we will eventually reside in the wine country of California the other parts of the year where I hope to be active at a local winery there.  

Mark and I will be producing larger vessels of wine this fall.  We are currently calculating the volume of fruit that we will need as we have already secured enough money to produce two to three barrels of wine.  We will be required to purchase the California fruit soon as it looks like 2015 will be another good your for the grapes, which will be in high demand.

I have had the privilege to get to know some of the most successful wine makers across the globe and are honored to call them friends.  I’m confident that I could reach out to any of them if I need advice.  By invitation, I intend to travel and work hands-on at some of their sides learning and absorbing from their knowledge and expertise!  

bill and Pierre Helene and Bill bill and mitch gary and suzanne

m & B b david & Bill Daniel & Bill

While in Minnesota, Mark and I will produce quality wine together using quality fruit in our great production facility.  I have invested in a new French oak barrel; as well as neutral oak barrels from Bordeaux that have beneficial flavor components for producing wine.  Minnesota laws also require us to produce equal amounts of wine from local fruit if it’s available; so we will be producing a fair amount of wine.  I wish to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and/or a Cabernet Franc (Bordeaux blends or single varietals).  The wines will be both barrel and bottle aged ready for consumption in 2017.

We will be making a number of variatles of and blends in the future. 

If you are interested in investing in purchasing futures, the minimum is at least one case (12 bottles) @ $25 per bottle; $300.00 (due at order) plus MN tax (payable upon delivery).  My credentials include my education and hands-on experience.  I travel to wine country of California about every six to eight weeks and continue to learn as much as I can.  I also believe with Marks experience, working together will only enhance our skills.  I believe that I have an excellent palate.  In addition to this wine blog (www.BillsWineWandering.com), I am a regular guest on the “CellarPass Ustream TV”. CellarPassTV is where you can view and participate in fun and informative online wine tasting events, winemaker interviews and more.  I am sent bottled samples of wines from various wineries for my true evaluations. (CellarPass.com is the leading destination for winery reservations and events.)

If you have questions, you can reach me direct on my mobile (612) 817-0630. 

At some point, we’re going to have to stop accepting pre-orders, but for now you can send payment (minimum of one case – $300) payable to Two Rivers Vineyard & Winery  and add “futures” to the memo.  Mail to 6111 Highway 10 NW Ramsey, Minnesota 55303.  If by chance you reside out of Minnesota, it is not a problem.  I assure you that we will work out the details of delivery in perfect condition.  

If you would like a tour of the facility in Ramsey, MN feel free to call me as it will be my pleasure to host you.  Here is a link to an article written by Shannon Prather about Two Rivers Vineyard and Winery in the StarTribune on May 19, 2015.   http://www.startribune.com/ramsey-vintner-toasts-traditional-winemaking-methods/304242401/

Be sure to check out and “LIKE” our FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TwoRiversWineryMN

Cheers!
Bill (and Chris and Mark!)

1 Comment
  1. Good luck on working together. I enjoyed reading about your endeavors. I am hoping Mark will be able to make his “Queens Kiss” as this was a favorite of mine and many others. Good luck Bill and Mark. Mary Krenik

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