Back in 2006, the first grapes were planted on what would become River Bend Vineyard. Exactly one hundred Frontenac vines were put in a very long row, and over the course of that summer, Al and I doted on our one hundred Frontenac like they were our children. We both had full-time, off-the-farm jobs back then, so we'd go out early in the morning and pull weeds or green prune. Fast forward to today, and there are eight hundred Frontenac vines among the three thousand that make up our six acre vineyard. I wish there were more, because this grape is the backbone of our rose' wine Magenta, a signature River Bend wine since the beginning. Before the beginning actually. Let me explain...
By the time Al and I moved to Chippewa Falls, we had been home winemakers for quite awhile. While attending a weekend grape growing seminar, we had discovered a "pick your own" vineyard in Lake City, Minnesota, and the first wine we made from local fruit was a rose' we produced from Frontenac. By that time, Frontenac had been around for awhile, and most commercial producers were making it into dry red. The problem was, we didn't really care for any of them. Fermented on the skins, Frontenac takes on an earthy characteristic that we just did not find appealing. But with moderate sugar levels and acidity to spare, we thought maybe rose' was its calling. So we pressed the juice off the skins before fermentation and were in awe of the color. It was beautiful, almost iridescent, and from that day forward this wine would be known as Magenta. A few months later, we entered a national amateur wine competition, and Magenta won a gold medal. Maybe we were on to something.
So here we are, about fifteen years since that very first batch of Magenta, and the "recipe" really hasn't changed. The batches are bigger and the press is larger, but we still follow the same basic procedure...press the grapes off the skins before fermentation and watch the beautiful juice flow into the press pan. We have since won gold and best-of-class medals in professional wine competitions, and we occasionally get snubbed by a wine judge for Magenta having "too much color" for a rose'. But that's ok...it's a lovely color and a lovely wine that our customers truly enjoy. And that's really the only accolades we need.
Until next time...Cheers!