By Karen L. Snyder
Salem Glen Vineyard and Winery owner Dustin Ebert can toast the success of his venture’s first season — if he saved some wine for himself.
Since opening last July, the southwest Rochester winery has sold almost all 3,000 bottles of its debut vintages.
This year, Ebert has doubled production and is planning construction projects, too. "I need to build event spaces," he says.
Before it became one of the newest entrants in Minnesota’s burgeoning wine industry, Salem Glen was a corn and soybean farm. Ebert bought the place seven years ago, and two years later introduced a more poetic crop. He planted 90 grapevines. Now he has 3,000 vines and this season will add another 300.
"It’s pretty outdoors here when it greens up," he says.
Vineyard visitors can bring a picnic, sit out on the patio, take in the bucolic view and enjoy their meal and a glass of wine. "Within the next year, I’ll add more seating areas outdoors," Ebert says.
Salem Glen’s tasting room features a long bar and a row of racks that will soon hold bottles of wine made from last fall’s grape harvest, wine that now is readying in shiny stainless steel tanks. Ebert plans to create a new and spacious tasting center in the farm’s barn. He’ll also put up a pavilion on the Salem Glen hill and use the structure for music events, weddings and parties. An observatory, likewise on the hill and already halfway done, reflects his interest in astronomy.
Ebert, 33, does keep busy. He plants vines, grows grapes, makes wine, undertakes his business’s building and remodeling projects and renovated the Salem Glen farmhouse where he lives, a 1920 prefab ordered from the Sears catalog. He also works full-time at Crenlo.
He couldn’t run Salem Glen alone, he says, and credits family members for pitching in. His father and mother, Tony and Dottie Ebert, "have been very supportive in the endeavor and help whenever they are able." Tony Ebert, Dustin’s brother, helps, too.
This season’s Salem Glen special occasions, still in the works, will likely include a fund-raiser for a local charity and an open house in June when all the wines will be available.
"It will be nice to have some reds this year," Ebert says. He’s making 12 varieties this year. The three new vintages are Savrevois — a dry red wine; Marechal Foche, a red, light to medium body; and Cranberry, a little bit sweet with some tartness.