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Local business discusses making wine without grapes

LAPORTE — Use what is around you.

That is what Paul Shuster said years ago when he and his wife came to the region and decided to use the fruits around them for various wines.

“When we first moved to the northwoods of Minnesota, to cut down on costs we used the fruits around us for many things. We use rhubarb for instance,” Shuster said. “And various berries in the region.”

In 1998, Paul and Sharon Shuster and John Wildmo began building winery buildings. In 2000, the Forestedge Winery in Laporte opened its doors.

On Monday, Paul will give and educational talk at the Minnesota State Fair about making wine without grapes.

“We’ve been doing the Minnesota Wine Country (at the state fair) since we started,” Shuster said. “I’ll be talking about making wine with various fruits — I’m not doing a wine making presentation, though they have those there — I’m just talking about making wine. It’s to educate people that not all wine comes from grapes.”

Shuster will be one of many Minnesota winemakers there. The Minnesota Wine Country will feature a variety of Minnesota wines, daily education programs, fair-appropriate gourmet foods and evening concerts to showcase the state’s growing wine industry, according to a press release.

The winery’s goal is also to educate people about fruit wine and how it impacts the state economy as well. Shuster said winemakers pay a lot of money in taxes.

“Every gallon of our wine is taxed. For instance, an acre of rhubarb used in our wine is money to the state,” Shuster said. “If that rhubarb went into, say, pies, the state would not get that money.”

All of the wines at Forestedge Winery are made of non-grape fruits. Forestedge Winery is a federal and state licensed Minnesota farm winery that either grows what they need to make wine or buy the fruit from people who grow for them.

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Joe Froemming

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