Paul Savaryn’s parents, John and Paula, emigrated from Ukraine and Germany and acquired the legendary North Shore Farm on Lake Waconia in 1970. They imagined fruit and vine crops would do well on the south-facing slopes of the farm. John, however, passed away before he could realize his dream. Nearly 40 years later, Paul, reimagined the farm and planted the first grapes that would be the start of Sovereign Estate Winery.
The Savaryn family now has 25 acres of Minnesota cold-hardy grapes planted north and south on the gently sloping lakefront property. This year marks the fifteenth growing season of mature grapevines, producing abundant and delicious wine grapes from which the family produces its world-class wine.
The family credits its success in a large part to the University of Minnesota’s horticultural research and Paul’s U of M education. Savaryn’s estate-grown Marquette, Frontenac Blanc and LeCrescent wines win acclaim year after year at the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition. This year the family’s bourbon-barrel-aged Marquette wine received the Best of Show award.
Sovereign Estate Winery is listed in the “Hidden Gems of America: Wineries and Vineyards 2022” book and is this year’s host for the International Cold Climate Wine Competition.
Paul is the president of the operation and oversees the winery and vineyard. His wife, Terri, is the general manager along with being an experienced chef. Their son Ben Banks is the winemaker and also is a talented photographer and skilled in graphic design. Ben’s wife, Hana, is the operation’s bookkeeper who also homeschools the couple’s two daughters. Paul and Terri’s son Isaac is the vineyard’s viticulturist bringing his education in science to the business. His wife, Macy, is the director of marketing and a new mom.
Terri is the past director of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and current president of the Minnesota Big Woods American Viticulture Area Alliance. Paul continues to be a devoted conservationist and hosts many charity events at the winery. Ben offers wine-making information and teaches classes across the country. Isaac helps novice grape growers establish their vineyards.
The Savaryns have hosted three MAST international students and work closely with the University of Minnesota to expand and strengthen the cold climate grape industry.