Minneapolis winemaker wants to make wine with your dandelions

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Urban Forage is a new Minneapolis-based winery and cider house that makes dandelion wine.

Fully admitting the idea is part creative and part crazy, Jeff Zeitler is asking the public for dandelion donations so he can recreate a wine he made two years ago.

“Me and my wife and my two kids, we can't gather dandelions fast enough,” Zeitler said.

Zeitler and his wife opened Urban Forage Winery and Cider House on E. Lake Street in Minneapolis at the end of 2015.  His dandelion wine has proven to be a crowd favorite, with people anxious to give it a try.

“If you make a fruit wine you are typically crushing the wine and extracting the fruit,” Zeitler said. “With dandelions you are boiling the dandelion in water to extract the essence, then adding a little sugar and a little bit of acidity.”

Zeitler started making wine and cider in his dorm room at the University of Minnesota. Now, he has a much bigger and better production in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood, where he’s committed to using items around from around the area as ingredients.

“We picked apples from people’s back yards [and] front yard apple trees,” Zeitler said. “We picked pear trees, cherry trees – all things people offered us.”

Making wine, cider and mead from local foraging is what Zeitler wants to be known for.

For a commercial-sized batch of dandelion wine, Zeitler will need tens of thousands of dandelions. The lawns the dandelions come from have to be free of dog poop and free of chemicals for the past three years.

“Way better in this form than in my yard,” Minneapolis resident Mindy Warland said of the dandelion wine.