Tongue River Winery         

                       Quality Made Wines with fruit exclusively from the Northern Plains!  

Red Grape Wine

Additional descriptions of our red grape wines can be found toward the bottom of this page.  You may order wines here or on our Online Store page.

Tongue Tied: This is a dry, red wine aged in French oak barrels.  It is a blend of Marquette, Frontenac and St. Croix and produces a wine with character similar to Malbec. Our Tongue Tied won a Silver Medal at the 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester, NY, and the People's Choice Award for commercial red wine at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the North Dakota Grape and Wine Association.

In the vineyard:  Marquette is a fairly hardy U of Minn. grape with a fine balance of tannins, acid and sugar.  Of the red grapes we grow, it is the most vinifera-like (Vitis vinifera is the European grape common to the west coast.)  Frontenac is hardy to at least -40°F, has loose clusters and not-very-clingy tendrils, which makes it easy to manage.  It always produces a good crop with notes of cherry.  St. Croix is an Elmer Swenson grape used in many parts of the Midwest.

In the Winery: This particular blend benefits from the fruit forward character of Frontenac, the lower acid and higher tannins of Marquette and a more well-rouned palate with the St. Croix.  Rare for hybrid grapes in the northern states, we often need to add tartaric acid to finish the wine properly.

In short:  Blended wines, as the French knew so well, are generally better than stand-alone varietals if the wines used are good ones on their own.  The weaknesses can be blended out and the strengths increased for a more polished and well-rounded wine.  Our Tongue-Tied wine is usually held for at least a year before sale. Silvermedal winner, Finger Lakes International, Rochester, NY, 2013, Bronze at NW Wine Summit, Oregon.

Warm Front:  Semi-sweet, steel fermented red wine of Frontenac grapes with notes of cherry and black currant.

In the Vineyard:  We love this vine!  The plants are very easy to manage; they always produce; they are quite aggressive and productive.

In the Winery: Frontenac has gathered increased excitement as a sweet wine to balance its high acid content. 2013 is our first year that we are doing it with some sweetness, and so far it promises to be a delightful alternative for those who don't like their wines totally dry.  Silver Medal at 2013 Finger Lakes International, Bronze in Mid-America, Peoples' Choice, 2014 ND.

Sabrevois On Oak:   A barrel-aged dry red wine good with any Marinara sauce meals (Italian dishes).

In the Vineyard:  We don't grow it, but it is very hardy and productive.  We purchase these grapes from a grower in North Dakota.

In the Winery:  Sabrevois has a reputation for sometimes having a bacon-like flavor if fermented the typical way.  The winemakers in Quebec discovered that carbonic maceration hugely boosts a fruit-forward and low tannin character to the wine while getting rid of the bacon!

The Process: whole bunches of grapes are pressed into a container to the top, flushed with carbon dioxide and sealed for 1-2 weeks. Then the fizzy grapes are crushed and destemmed, and yeast fermented as usual.  We then barrel age the wine to soften and complex the flavors.

St Croix:  A rosé, semi-sweet wine with fruity aromas and dried fruit and currant flavor.  Low tannins, fermented entirely in steel.

In the Vineyard:  This grape took a long time being happy in our vineyard, like many of the Elmer Swenson varieties on high pH soils.  Finally when we were going to remove it, it began to cooperate.  Its continued stay in our vineyard is tentative!

In the Winery:  For us, St. Croix as a big full-bodied wine is vegetal and disappointing.  But as a rosé it is a delicious, well-rounded wine. We make it when we can find the grapes!

 Silver Medal, NW Wine Summit, Hood River, OR, 2014.

Frontenac Trio Rosé:  Like St. Croix, this is a semi-sweet rosé made with a blend of all three Frontenac grapes:  Noir, Gris and the newest, Blanc.  Fermented in steel, no oak.

In the Vineyard:  The Frontenacs are our hardiest, most reliable grapes.  When others fail, we generally can get a crop with these. Hardy to -40° F or more and aggressive!

In the Winery:  The Frontenac grapes lend themselves to a wide variety of wine styles.  I know of one winery making 6 wines of Frontenac Noir alone!  This blend takes deep color and black cherry notes from Noir, tropical complexity from Gris and minerality and simplicity from Blanc to form a delicious wine great with salads, cheeses and light meals.

In Short:  A wine for almost any occasion!  In 2015, a Silver Medal at Finger Lakes International, Gold medals at NW Wine Summit in Oregon and Mid-American Wine Competition in Iowa.