Surrounded by five of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, the Alexandria Lakes viticultural area was created in 2005. The petition was filed by Robert G. Johnson, then of Carlos Creek Winery justifying the creation of the appellation by showing that the region was unique due to its geology, climate and name designation. Regarding the name, Johnson showed that the name is related to the nearby City of Alexandria which is the county seat of Douglas County, Minnesota in which the appellation is contained within entirely. Additionally the term “Alexandria Lakes had been in use previously by the local chamber of commerce and the sanitary district.
The geology of the region is unique in that it is virtually completely surrounded by small glacial lakes which were formed by glaciers during the Wisconsin glaciation period nearly 10,000 years ago that scraped at the ancient bedrocks. These rocks were formed in the late Archean eon about 2500-2800 million years ago and are made up of volcanic rocks with lots of silicas such as mica, schist, phyllite and granite-like materials and were covered by ancient Lake Agissiz. When the dam that formed the lake broke the waters flowed out across the southeast part of Minnesota and Wisconsin into Iowa and Illinois. The Red River Valley follows this pathway and kettle lakes such as Lakes Miltona, Ida, Carlos, Darling and Louise and Alvin remained. These lakes form the headwaters to the Long Prairie River which drains the region.
The soils over the bedrocks consist of Nebish-Beltrami soils which are deep and will drained soils from calcareous, loamy glacial moraines with moderate permeability and hosts mainly deciduous and conifer forests. They are generally considered poor for agricultural purposes. Viticulture, however often thrives in these kinds of soils.
The associated climate in the appellation is drier than the surrounding areas which almost seems counter intuitive given the associated lakes. The majority of the precipitation comes during the warm seasons. The temperatures are generally seen to be warmer as well allowing for grapes to ripen despite how far north the region is found.
The Alexandria Lakes is home to only one winery/vineyard, Carlos Creek. The winery was founded in 1997 and opened in 1999. The founder of the winery, Robert G. Johnson petitioned the TTB in 2005 for the creation of the AVA. The Johnsons sold the winery to the current owner Kim and Tami Bredeson in 2008. They grow cold-hardy grapes developed by the University of Minnesota such as Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, and Marquette; grapes developed by Elmer Swenson: Brianna, Prairie Star, Sabrevois and varietals from other sources: King of the North (native Labrusca); Valiant (South Dakota State University) and Petit Pearl (Tom Plocher, MN). In additional Carlos Creek produces wines from California grapes as well as fruit sourced from other vineyards in Minnesota.