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Lake Minnetonka Living, May/June 2007

Mr. Wine

Haskell's John Farrell uncorks the mystery behind fine wine

by Kelly Westhoff

For John Farrell, owner of Haskell's, naming his favorite wine is like judging the Miss America pageant. “You can only choose one as the winner, but they're all beautiful,” he says.

If pressed, however, Farrell, who is known as Jack in wine circles, admits pinot noir is his favorite type of wine. “I am a great aficionado of pinot noir,” he says. “Long before the movie Sideways, I was drinking it. I think it is the most complex wine in the world.”

Farrell has racked up a lifetime of wine tasting experience. He purchased Haskell's in 1970 at the age of 28. Since that time he's traversed the globe in search of classic labels and upstart brands in an effort to bring the world's finest wines to the Lake Minnetonka area. He's doing his job. This spring, a readers' poll in the Lakeshore Weekly News voted Haskell's the store with the “Best Wine Selection.”

“Wine is an adventure,” Farrell explains. “Every time you pull the cork, it's a brand new adventure.” And he certainly has his share of stories to tell about the wine regions of the world he's visited. “There have been surprises at every step of the way,” Farrell says, explaining that the wine-making process is similar world over. “What's different,” he says, “are the local traditions.”

In South Africa, Farrell explains, baboons steal grapes from vines. To keep the primates at bay, growers hang pieces of human hair among the fruit. In Germany , some vineyards run up inclines so steep pickers have to use mountain climbing gear to harvest the grapes.

Chile's wine region is quite arid, yet the area experiences massive freshwater runoff from the Andes mountains. There, the winemakers' irrigation systems, Farrell says, are impressive. On the island of Santorini, growers weave vines into baskets, providing a protective shelter for the grapes, which develop inside. The baskets also trap morning dew providing an extra water source.

Argentina. Tasmania. Australia. Oregon. Italy. France. Farrell has toured and tasted wines wherever they are produced, expect India and China. Both countries claim new wine industries and while he's traveled through each, Farrell admits he hasn't visited wineries there—yet.

The remainder of this article can be found in the May/June 2007 issue of Lake Minnetonka Living magazine.

To learn more about Haskell's visit www.haskells.com.

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