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Forestedge expands, earning awards

Forestedge Winery's John Wildo, left, and Paul Shuster have added a bottling line system to the production facility, the machine filling, corking, capsulating and adding the label to a bottle in less than five seconds. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Like the burgeoning rhubarb patch - now spanning two acres - Forestedge Winery has expanded the retail and production areas, both doubling in size.

But unlike the rhubarb patch - the original plants dating back to the Depression era - the winery is home to state-of-the-art equipment. A recently acquired Monoblock from Italy fills, corks, capsulates and labels a bottle of wine in 4.5 seconds flat.

"It allows us to concentrate on quality," Paul Shuster said of the efficient machine.

Winemakers Paul and Sharon Shuster and John Wildmo produce 7,000 to 8,000 gallons of wine per year, crafting the wine in small batches.

The winery is home to 25 aging vats; fermenting wine is a two-year process.

"It's the reason we're winning awards. We take the time to age the wine," Paul Shuster said.

The "winery in the woods," established in 1999 on Highway 64 north of Akeley, may have a remote location, but it's capturing the attention of sommeliers and wine competition judges nation- and world-wide.

To date, the winery has claimed three silvers and three bronze awards at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester, N.Y. The wines earned a double gold (for the rhubarb-raspberry blend) along with bronze and silver awards for their blueberry, cranberry and rhubarb wines at the National Women's Wine Competition in Santa Rosa, Calif. The Taste of Lakeville competition decreed the blueberry wine to be "best regional wine."

And the summer is just beginning.

Fourteen varieties are available at the winery, with tours available.

Forestedge Winery is open May through December, closed on Mondays.

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