Located on a small, family-run farm in Morgan, Minn., 115 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, Fieldstone Vineyards was started by Don Reding, his son Chad and his son-in-law Charlie Quast. Since Don’s grandfather founded the farm in 1901, the Redings have mainly raised livestock and grown crops such as soybeans and corn. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Don’s son-in-law, Charlie Quast, persuaded the family to grow wine grapes and start a winery. Together the Redings and Charlie convinced the State of Minnesota to research growing cold-hardy grapes at the family farm.
In 1999, Fieldstone received a grant from the State of Minnesota’s Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Program. The following year, Don, Chad and Charlie pooled their resources and planted 256 nursery stock vines of five different winter-hardy grapes (such grapes can survive to 35 degrees below zero) on approximately two-thirds of an acre. In a stunning success, 238 vines survived the winter without any protection. According to Don Reding, the 93 percent success rate “proved grapes could be an alternative crop to sustain the family farm in Minnesota.”
Charlie, Don and Chad then joined forces with wine enthusiast Mark Wedge, a self-taught winemaker whose skills include counteracting the great fertility of southern Minnesota’s farmland in order to slow and strengthen the growth of the vines. Together, they opened a tasting room and retail outlet in spring 2003.