Millner Heritage Plans Vineyard Expansion, New Wine Varieties
KIMBALL -- Central Minnesotans love their wine so much it's forcing one local vineyard to expand its grape growing operations.
Millner Heritage Winery and Vineyard in Kimball bought 27 acres of land that's just south of their current nine-acre vineyard. Jon Millner co-owns Millner Heritage. He says they will be using the majority of the 27 acres for a second vineyard.
"It's also right on Highway 15 but it's two and a half miles south on the opposite side of the road, on the east side. It's 27 acres, I suspect, I think I'm probably going to put my house on it here in a couple years. I bet it'll be roughly 20 acres that will be a vineyard."
Millner Heritage planted their first vines in 2006 and opened their doors in 2009. The winery has steadily been increasing the amount of wine they've been making every year. Millner says for their first season they made about 14,000 bottles of wine and now they are up to over 90,000 bottles for this year.
Over the years they have planted several cold-hardy grape varieties developed by the University of Minnesota and Elmer Swensen, the godfather of cold-hardy grape breeding.
For the expansion, Millner says they plan to plant mostly Frontenac, but also the newest grape variety released by the University of Minnesota, Itasca is on deck to be planted as well.
"We finished planting out the current site in 2009 but there are some other varieties that have come out since then. Like Itasca."
Millner says the Itasca grape will allow him to create new wine varieties. Specifically, a good dry white style wine.
However, the Millner's aren't waiting to expand to get a start on making new wines. The winery is set to release their newest wine this fall. "Sotan" short for Minnesotan, Millner says is a dessert wine that uses raisins to get its sweet flavor.
"It's about 15% alcohol but it's still left pretty residually sweet. Also, it has a lot of acid too it because it's made out of last year's vintage that we are finishing out now. The baseline is La Crescent and Frontenac Blac that's the variety I use for the raisins but both varieties are high acid grapes."
Millner says choosing Sotan as a name just makes sense.
"It's Minnesota grapes, it's made by Minnesotans, it's only for sale in Minnesota, so I assume it's going to be mostly consumed by Minnesotans. So we thought maybe call it Sotan."
With the expansion and the creation of new varieties, Millner Heritage will also be hiring more employees. If you're interested follow the link below.