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Winery provides another reason to visit North Shore

Photo by Lissa Maki

Photo by Lissa Maki

With its rugged terrain and sometimes unforgiving climate, Lake Superior’s north shore seems like an unlikely place for a winery. But that didn’t deter wine connoisseurs Chuck and Kim Corliss from founding North Shore Winery near the base of Lutsen Mountains in 2015.

Chuck is a veteran winemaker. The couple shares a passion for wine and adventure. They’ve traveled extensively, often to taste and learn about wine. The Corlisses fell in love with Lutsen and its many options for outdoor recreation and decided to move there to open a winery as part of their “retirement” plan.

The plan has been well received so far. In the winery’s first year, mid-2016 to mid-2017, its products sold out. Production doubled the following year and continues to grow. Jeremy and Mary Hanson were brought in as partners to help with the business, which Jeremy says “took off like a rocket.”

Mary and Jeremy Hanson - Photo by Lissa Maki

Mary and Jeremy Hanson – Photo by Lissa Maki

The North Shore Winery produces a wide range of wines, including varietals such as zinfandel and syrah as well as French heritage wines like chardonnay (know as white Burgundy in France) and cabernet sauvignon.

In order to craft these traditional wines, the winery has to truck in grapes from California each fall. A recent delivery from Lodi brought a total of 23,000 pounds of zinfandel, syrah and merlot grapes to the winery, which is located near the base of Lutsen Mountains at 202 Ski Hill Road.

The North Shore Winery also crafts a number of blends. Its Borealis white wine combines California grapes with a newer cold weather, Minnesota-grown variety called “Brianna.”

But there’s more than grapes fermenting at the winery. Its sister business, Sawtooth Mountain Cider House, produces hard cider from apples grown at Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake.

The Sawtooth Mountain Cider House makes several different ciders, including seasonals like Razzzzzz, which uses raspberries grown on site. Herbie’s Blend, its most popular cider, is made with locally harvested Caribou Cream maple syrup.

Jeremy says the diverse wine and cider offerings help satisfy the palates of many. Cider gives visitors who aren’t wine drinkers another tasting option. It also helps meet a Minnesota regulation that wineries source at least 51 percent of their fruit in state.

Duluth’s Vikre Distillery and North Shore Winery recently collaborated to produce Winter’s Spirit, a potent fortified wine (20 percent ABV) comprised of grapes, maple syrup and apples. The latest batch of this popular dessert wine should be available starting next week but only in the winery’s tasting room.

The diverse wine and cider offerings are meant to satisfy the palates of many. Cider gives visitors non-wine drinkers another tasting option. It also helps meet a Minnesota regulation that wineries source at least 51 percent of their fruit in state.

The winery draws in tourists and locals alike. It hosts private events and puts on reoccurring public events like “Date Night” Thursdays, which feature live music and have helped build its base of local support.

Jeremy notes that the winery takes pride in creating a high quality product. It also places a priority on the visitor’s tasting room experience. “We’re located in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have phenomenal staff and we want to create an experience that customers will remember.”

For those who can’t make the trek to Lutsen, Duluth businesses such as Mount Royal Bottle Shop, Lake Aire Bottle Shoppe and Fitger’s Wine Cellar have recently begun to carry some of North Shore Winery’s wines.

Sawtooth Mountain Cider House - Photo by Lissa Maki

North Shore Winery & Sawtooth Mountain Cider House – Photo by Lissa Maki

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