Tricounty News

Millner Heritage wine wins Governor’s Cup

A wine made near Kimball won top honors at the fifth annual International Cold Climate Wine Competition at the University of Minnesota last Friday.

The wine that won the Governor’s Cup was Little Iza, a light, sweet wine made at Millner Heritage Vineyard and Winery by Jon Millner. The wine is named after his daughter, Izabella Millner.

The competition, now five years running, it’s the only competition for northern-tier vineyards. Panels of 21 expert judges spent the day tasting wines grown from grapes in 12 northern states and Canada.

After the wines had been allowed to linger on judges’ palates, the 2012 Little Iza wine was awarded the Minnesota Governor’s Cup for the best gold-winning Minnesota wine.

“I make Little Iza with mostly La Crescent, but there is a little bit of Vignoles blended in as well,” Millner said. “It screams a lot of apple and pineapple tones, and it’s actually even a little bit tart, kind of like a pineapple.”


Millner said the competition is only for cold climate grape varieties.

“The entire intent of this is to compete everyone’s Frontenac or Marquette or other cold-hardy varieties against each other. So many of the participants that competed were from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Quebec and other various colder climates,” he said.

By winning the Governor’s Cup, the Kimball winery has the distinction for making the best wine in Minnesota.

“I think it was a couple hundred wines entered from within the state, and the Governor’s Cup is the best one of all those Minnesota wines entered,” he said. “So, we’re pretty proud of this accomplishment. There are getting to be close to 50 wineries in the state now, so the fact that one of our wines was judged best by 21 independent judges of the couple hundred wines from Minnesota, I think that says a lot.”

Millner is also proud that the wine is being sold for $14.95 a bottle, “a very reasonable price,” he said.

Nach der arbeit ist gute ruh.

Vintners Jon, Anna, Mary and Don Millner. One of their varieties of wine, “Little Iza” named for Jon and Anna’s daughter, took the Governor’s Cup in international competition last week.