Flower Valley Winery to open SaturdayIn the late 1960s, Dave and Tom Mohn’s parents bought a 160-acre farm just south of Red Wing. Over the years, the farm has been home to everything from dairy cows to pigs. But now, with all of the animals — save for a few horses — gone, the family will begin harvesting a new kind of crop: Minnesota wine.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
In the late 1960s, Dave and Tom Mohn’s parents bought a 160-acre farm just south of Red Wing. Over the years, the farm has been home to everything from dairy cows to pigs.
But now, with all of the animals — save for a few horses — gone, the family will begin harvesting a new kind of crop: Minnesota wine. Flower Valley Winery is set to open Saturday.
“It’s a way to use the land. It’s not corn ground,” Tom said, referencing the surrounding bluffs and hills.
The brothers, along with Dave’s wife Mary, began planting their 12 acres of vines in 2002, creating Flower Valley Vineyard. When the vines began producing grapes at five years old, the family sold the grapes to other Minnesota winemakers.
“We sold grapes for money for many years,” Mary said, adding that business model meant the family got paid only once a year.
“It got very labor intensive,” she said.
That’s why the group began using their grapes to produce their own wines last fall. Their first batch includes 4,600 bottles.
“Now we’re delving into (winemaking),” Tom said.
To go along with their new venture, the Mohns recently remodeled an old machinery shed to make it a tasting room and winery. The bar takes up one side of the building while the production equipment — tanks and a press — occupy the other half.
“It was a great way to recycle an old building,” Dave said.
Currently, Flower Valley Winery offers four wines: Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, La Crescent and Marquette.
“We use 100 percent of our own grapes grown in Red Wing,” Tom said.
For the Mohns, that’s important. Dave is on the board of the Minnesota Grape Growers association, and Tom is a member.
“Getting the right grapes, getting them to be palatable — that’s 70 to 80 percent of winemaking,” Dave said.
So far, the winery’s only employees are the three Mohns, along with Tom’s daughter Sarah. But because all of the work on the vineyard is done by hand, the family has brought in a few other hands to help out during pruning and harvest seasons.
“We depend on a lot of friends and family,” Mary said.
Currently, Dave, Tom and Mary also have full-time jobs. Mary works for Aramark in the 3M building in St. Paul, Dave works for Travelers Insurance and Tom works for State Farm Insurance.
“We’re all supporting this and we want this to support us,” Dave said.
“We have a long history here,” Tom said. “We’d like to see it melt into Red Wing.”
What: Flower Valley Vineyard and Winery
Where: 29212 Orchard Road
Hours: noon-6 p.m., Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday
More information: www.mohnfamilyvineyard.com