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Sovereign Estate Brings Home The Governor’s Cup At The 6th Annual International Cold Climate Wine Competition

August 19, 2014

After much swishing and spitting, winners have been confirmed at the 2014 International Cold Climate Wine Competition (ICCWC), held today at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Conference Center in St. Paul, MN.  The trophy for the best Minnesota grape wine known as the Minnesota Governor’s Cup, was won by Sovereign Estate of Waconia, MN, for their single varietal 2013 La Crescent wine.  The Minnesota Governor’s Cup, a lovely large silver ice bucket, recognizes the “Best of Show” or top prize of all Minnesota gold-winning wines.  This is the 6th year the traveling trophy has been awarded.

Shelburne Vineyard of Shelburne, VT took “Best of Show” or top prize in the red wine category for their 2012 Marquette Reserve.  In the white wine category, Danzinger Vineyards of Alma, WI was awarded “Best of Show” for their 2013 Golden Sunrise, a single varietal Frontenac Gris.  The specialty/fortified wine category “Best of Show” winner was Door 44 Winery of Sturgeon Bay, WI with their “Bubbler”, sparkling wine. 

This year’s competition included 284 wines from 59 commercial wineries in 11 states.  Awards were based on blind tastings by 21 expert judges, who include enologists, wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers, and wine educators.  Three-judge panels determined the initial medals, with the top-scoring Best of Show wines evaluated by seven-judge panels and all 21 judges for the Minnesota Governor’s Cup award. 

The ICCWC is a partnership between the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota, which developed several of the cold-hardy grapes used to make the wines in the competition.  This competition is the only one exclusively dedicated to wines made from cold-hardy grape varieties that can withstand the winters known to the Upper Midwest, North East, and parts of Canada.  The main goals of the ICCWC are to educate the world about these grape varieties and encourage enology practices that will produce high quality and highly marketable wines.  The competition is coordinated by Gordon Rouse, AWS Certified Judge, of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association (MGGA), Gary Gardner, Professor of Horticultural Science in the University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and Katie Cook, University of Minnesota Enologist.  Sponsors include the Minnesota Farm Winery Association and the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis Hotel. 

The competition is open to commercial wineries meeting the criteria for cold-hardy grape and fruit content.  In 2014 a total of 33 Gold, 67 Silver, and 80 Bronze medals were awarded.  In addition, “Best of Show” designations were awarded to wines rated as the finest in the available categories.  Medal winners and competition judges are listed below. 

 

The Less Familiar Grape Names of Cold Climate Regions.

The grape varieties that most wine drinkers are familiar with: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and the like grow wonderfully under a multitude of conditions as long the winters do not get too cold.  Despite the fact that the Twin Cities are at approximately the same line of latitude as Bordeaux [44.9° to 44.8° respectively], famous wine regions like Bordeaux do not have winters with temperatures that consistently sit below 0° F.  At these temperatures, the vines of European varieties would perish.  Native American grape varieties found in the northern states do survive our winters though.  Therefore, instead of spending thousands of years breeding our native grapes to create ones that produce wines we enjoy as was done with the European varieties, we are cross-breeding the native varieties with the European ones to produce grapes that not only survive the winters, but taste good as well.  The names of these hybrids are what you will find on the wine labels in Minnesota and numerous other cold climate regions.

History

Grape growing and winemaking has been a part of just about every state’s history starting when European settlers began arriving.  In the northern states though, European grape varieties never fared well.  It wasn’t until the 1970s that successes from notable Wisconsin grape breeder, Elmer Swenson and the University of Minnesota showed that cold climate grape growing and winemaking could be a viable industry.  In 1976 the MN Grape Growers Association was formed.  Two years later, the first vineyard exclusively growing cold hardy grapes was established.  The Minnesota Legislature soon recognized this potential and in 1985, they directed the University of Minnesota specifically to research grape growing and wine production in cold climates.  In 1996, the University released Frontenac, its first truly cold-hardy grape variety which has since been followed be numerous others including La Crescent and Marquette.  Over the years, the University of Minnesota has been recognized as having one of the top wine grape research programs in the United States.  The contribution to the economy of the industry surpassed $40 million in 2011 and has continued to grow (even through cold winters) ever since. 

There are currently 77 registered wine producers and blenders in the state of Minnesota.  The number of wine producers in the state has nearly doubled over the past 5 years and is expected to continue to grow.

State Winery Wine Name Wine Vintage Category Entered
DOUBLE GOLD
IL Famous Fossil Vineyard & Winery Fireside Red 2012 Specialty: Red- Fortified
MN Parley Lake Winery Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
NE Feather River Vineyards Edelweiss 2013 Single Varietal: Edelweiss
NY Tug Hill Vineyards 43 Lat Blush   Blush/Rose: Single Varietal and Blends
NY Tug Hill Vineyards Cuvée Rosé 2013 Specialty: Sparkling Grape
VT Lincoln Peak Vineyard Black Sparrow 2013 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
VT Lincoln Peak Vineyard Ragtime White 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Danzinger Vineyards Golden Sunrise 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
WI Danzinger Vineyards River Paradise 2013 Single Varietal: Brianna
WI Cold Country Vines & Wines, LLC La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
GOLD
IA Dubuque Heritage Winery Washington Park Cherry 2013 Non-Grape: Stone Fruit
IL Galena Cellars Eric the Red   Single Varietal: Marechal Foch
IL Galena Cellars Effervescence de Frontenac Gris 2013 Specialty: Sparkling Grape
MI Leigh's Garden Winery, Inc. Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Crow River Winery Red Coyote 2012 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Parley Lake Winery Frontenac Gris 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
MN Parley Lake Winery La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
MN Sovereign Estate La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
MN Sovereign Estate St. Therese Rose 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Rosé
MN Woodland Hill Winery Tickled Pink   Non-Grape: Fruit Blends
MN Two Rivers Vineyard & Winery Granny's Favorite   Specialty: Red- Fortified
NE Glacial Till Brianna 2013 Single Varietal: Brianna
VT Shelburne Vineyard Marquette Reserve 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
VT North Branch Vineyards Frontenac Gris 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
WI Dancing Dragonfly Winery Ballet 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Dancing Dragonfly Winery Charleston 2012 Single Varietal: Prairie Star
WI Danzinger Vineyards Late Harvest St. Pepin 2013 Specialty: White - Sweet/Late Harvest/Dessert
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Glacier Fume 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Carl's Wild Grape 2012 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Sinnipee Valley Vineyard & Winery Rustic Road 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac
WI Door 44 Winery Red Door 2013 Single Varietal: Marechal Foch
WI Door 44 Winery Bubbler 2013 Specialty: Sparkling Grape
SILVER
IA Tassel Ridge Winery Iowa Brianna 2013 Single Varietal: Brianna
IL Illinois Sparkling Company Heirloom   Specialty: Sparkling Grape
IL Illinois Sparkling Company Dollface   Specialty: Sparkling Grape
MI Leigh's Garden Winery, Inc. Marechal Foch 2013 Single Varietal: Marechal Foch
MN Cannon River Winery St. Pepin 2012 Single Varietal: St. Pepin
MN Cannon River Winery Sparkle Edelweiss 2013 Specialty: Sparkling Grape
MN Cannon River Winery Winter Ice 2012 Specialty: Ice Wine
MN Flower Valley Vineyard Frontenac Gris 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
MN Indian Island Winery Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Indian Island Winery Indian Island Ice 2013 Specialty: Ice Wine
MN Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery Freizeit 2012 Single Varietal: Prairie Star
MN Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery Neuhaus 2013 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery Müllner Nice 2013 Specialty: White - Sweet/Late Harvest/Dessert
MN Richwood Winery Metro Marquette 2011 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Saint Croix Vineyards Frontenac Gris 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
MN Saint Croix Vineyards La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
MN Whispering Oaks Winery Frontenac Blanc 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Wild Mountain Winery Frontenac Rosé 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Rosé
MN Wild Mountain Winery Mountain Sweet White 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Winehaven Winery Marechal Foch 2013 Single Varietal: Marechal Foch
MN Winehaven Winery Marquette Reserve 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Winehaven Winery Stinger Honeywine   Non-Grape: Mead/Mead-Fruit Blends; Maple syrup; Maple syrup/Fruit Blends
MN Winehaven Winery Deer Garden Red 2013 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Buffalo Rock Winery Rosemary's Rosé 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Rosé
MN Buffalo Rock Winery Hot MaMa 2013 Single Varietal: LaCrosse
MN Woodland Hill Winery Summer Breeze 2013 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Two Rivers Vineyard & Winery Frontenac Gris   Specialty: White - Sweet/Late Harvest/Dessert
MN Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery Kasota Rose 2013 Blush/Rose: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery La Crescent 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery Petite Colline 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery Minnesota Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Javens Family Vineyard and Winery Frontenac Gris 2012 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
NE Glacial Till Prairie Fire 2011 Specialty: Red- Fortified
NE Miletta Vista Winery Brianna 2013 Single Varietal: Brianna
NE Miletta Vista Winery LaCrescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
NV Tahoe Ridge Winery Frontenac 2012 Single Varietal: Frontenac
NY Coyote Moon Vineyards Island Mama 2013 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
NY Coyote Moon Vineyards Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
NY Coyote Moon Vineyards Twisted Sister 2013 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
NY Tug Hill Vineyards La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
NY Tug Hill Vineyards Prairie Star 2013 Single Varietal: Prairie Star
NY Thousand Islands Winery Frontenac XXX 2011 Specialty: Red- Fortified
SD Belle Joli Winery Cherry   Non-Grape: Stone Fruit
VT Shelburne Vineyard Harvest Widow's Revenge 2013 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
VT Shelburne Vineyard La Crescent   Single Varietal: La Crescent
VT Shelburne Vineyard Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
VT Shelburne Vineyard Whimsey Meadow Rose 2013 Blush/Rose: Single Varietal and Blends
VT North Branch Vineyards Frontenac 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac
VT Fresh Tracks Farm Vineyard & Winery Little Piggy Pink   Single Varietal: Frontenac Rosé
VT Fernleigh Cellars Maple Reserve - Special Dark   Non-Grape: Mead/Mead-Fruit Blends; Maple syrup; Maple syrup/Fruit Blends
VT Fernleigh Cellars Maple Reserve - Amber   Non-Grape: Mead/Mead-Fruit Blends; Maple syrup; Maple syrup/Fruit Blends
VT Lincoln Peak Vineyard Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
WI Dancing Dragonfly Winery Promenade 2013 Single Varietal: Brianna
WI Dancing Dragonfly Winery Tango 2013 Non-Grape: Berry
WI Dancing Dragonfly Winery Bill's Waltz 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
WI Danzinger Vineyards Waumandee White 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
WI Danzinger Vineyards Sweet Alma Red 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac
WI Danzinger Vineyards Rose Valley Rosé 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
WI Seven Hawks Vineyards Prarie Star   Single Varietal: Prairie Star
WI Wollersheim Winery Prairie Blush 2013 Blush/Rose: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Elmaro Vineyard Marquette   Single Varietal: Marquette
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Frontenac Dessert 2012 Specialty: Red - Sweet/Dessert
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Glacier White 2012 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Frozen Tundra Red 2013 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Sinnipee Valley Vineyard & Winery Sinnipee Gold 2013 Single Varietal: LaCrosse
WI Door 44 Winery F2 2012 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Cold Country Vines & Wines, LLC Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
BRONZE
IA Fireside Winery Glow 2013 Single Varietal: Brianna
IA Fireside Winery Iowa LaCrosse 2013 Single Varietal: LaCrosse
IA Dubuque Heritage Winery Eagle Point White 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
IA Old Town Vineyard and Winery Le Petite Pearl 2013 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
IL August Hill Winery Sweet William   Single Varietal: La Crescent
IL Galena Cellars Frontenac 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac
IL Galena Cellars Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
IL Illinois Sparkling Company Stereo   Specialty: Sparkling Grape
MI Northern Sun Winery Sole di Sera 2011 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MI Leigh's Garden Winery, Inc. Bay de Noc Red 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
MI Leigh's Garden Winery, Inc. Ludington Street Blues 2013 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MI Leigh's Garden Winery, Inc. Old Escanaba 2013 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MI Harbor Springs Vineyards & Winery Schoolhouse Red 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Burr Vineyards Marquette 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Cannon River Winery Sogn Blush 2012 Blush/Rose: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Crow River Winery Frontenac Gris 2012 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
MN Flower Valley Vineyard Frontenac Rosé 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Rosé
MN Indian Island Winery Frontenac Rosé 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Rosé
MN Indian Island Winery Prairie Wind 2013 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Indian Island Winery Island Smoke 2012 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery Mein Onkel 2012 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery Papo 2010 Specialty: Red- Fortified
MN Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery Nordsüss 2013 Specialty: Red - Sweet/Dessert
MN Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery Gemütlichkeit 2013 Single Varietal: Prairie Star
MN Parley Lake Winery Marquette Limited Edition 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Parley Lake Winery Petite Amie 2013 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Saint Croix Vineyards Frontenac Late Harvest 2012 Specialty: Red - Sweet/Dessert
MN Whispering Oaks Winery La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
MN Whitewater Wines Marechal Foch 2012 Single Varietal: Marechal Foch
MN Whitewater Wines Marquette 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Whitewater Wines Vin Yule 2013 Non-Grape: Other Fruit/rhubarb
MN Wild Mountain Winery Frontenac Gris 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
MN Wild Mountain Winery Arrowhead Red 2012 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Wild Mountain Winery Aurora Borealis 2011 Specialty: Red- Fortified
MN Glacial Ridge Winery Sippin from a Slipper   Single Varietal: La Crescent
MN Winehaven Winery Grapewinds Port   Specialty: Red- Fortified
MN Winehaven Winery Strawberry-Rhubarb Wine   Non-Grape: Fruit Blends
MN Winehaven Winery Raspberry Wine   Non-Grape: Berry
MN Woodland Hill Winery Volante 2010 Specialty: Red- Fortified
MN Woodland Hill Winery Hunter's Red 2011 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
MN Two Rivers Vineyard & Winery Apple   Non-Grape: Apple & Pear
MN Two Rivers Vineyard & Winery St. Pepin   Single Varietal: St. Pepin
MN Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery Marquette Reserve 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
MN Javens Family Vineyard and Winery New Traditions 2012 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
NE Feather River Vineyards Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
NE Feather River Vineyards Regale 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
NY Coyote Moon Vineyards Brianna 2013 Single Varietal: Brianna
NY Coyote Moon Vineyards Casa Papa Red 2013 Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
NY Coyote Moon Vineyards Frontenac Blanc 2013 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
NY The Cape Winery Marquette Corsé   Single Varietal: Marquette
NY Tug Hill Vineyards Apple   Non-Grape: Apple & Pear
NY Tug Hill Vineyards Frontenac Gris   Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
NY Tug Hill Vineyards Marquette 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
NY Tug Hill Vineyards Strawberry Rhubarb   Non-Grape: Other Fruit/rhubarb
NY Thousand Islands Winery Frontenac 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac
SD Tucker's Walk Vineyard LaCrescent   Single Varietal: La Crescent
SD Tucker's Walk Vineyard Marquette 2013 Single Varietal: Marquette
SD Belle Joli Winery Marquette   Single Varietal: Marquette
SD Belle Joli Winery Peach   Non-Grape: Stone Fruit
VT Shelburne Vineyard Louise Swenson 2013 Dry White: Single Varietal and Blends
VT Fresh Tracks Farm Vineyard & Winery Frontenac Gris 2011 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
VT Fresh Tracks Farm Vineyard & Winery Maple Wine   Non-Grape: Mead/Mead-Fruit Blends; Maple syrup; Maple syrup/Fruit Blends
VT Fresh Tracks Farm Vineyard & Winery The Digger's Dance   Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
VT Fresh Tracks Farm Vineyard & Winery Dog River Red   Semi-Sweet Red: Single Varietal and Blends
VT Lincoln Peak Vineyard Marquette 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
WI Dancing Dragonfly Winery Sashay 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac
WI Danzinger Vineyards Danzinger White 2012 Single Varietal: Prairie Star
WI Seven Hawks Vineyards La Crescent Reserve   Single Varietal: La Crescent
WI Wollersheim Winery Eagle White 2013 Semi-Sweet White: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Wollersheim Winery Ice Wine 2012 Specialty: Ice Wine
WI Elmaro Vineyard Edelweiss 2013 Single Varietal: Edelweiss
WI Elmaro Vineyard Frontenac Gris 2013 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
WI Elmaro Vineyard La Crescent 2013 Single Varietal: La Crescent
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Late Harvest St. Pepin 2012 Specialty: White - Sweet/Late Harvest/Dessert
 
WI
Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Marquette   Single Varietal: Marquette
WI Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery Petite Pearl 2013 Dry Red: Single Varietal and Blends
WI Sinnipee Valley Vineyard & Winery SummerAire 2013 Single Varietal: St. Pepin
WI Door 44 Winery M 2012 Single Varietal: Marquette
WI Door 44 Winery Sunburst 2012 Single Varietal: Frontenac Gris
OH Hillside Winery Marechal Foch 2012 Single Varietal: Marechal Foch

2014 Competition Judges

  • Nick Barth, Certified Sommelier/Founder, Nick’s Third Floor, Veranda Lounge, Wine Shop
  • Bradley Beam, Enologist, Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Association
  • Jennifer Thull, University of Minnesota, Assistant Vineyard Manager
  • Dave Kuennen, Owner, Bright Wines
  • Ellie Butz, Wine Consultant, Vintage Winery Consultants
  • Jennifer Chou, Chief Wine Officer, The Savvy Grape
  • Mark Ganchiff, Publisher, Midwest Wine Press
  • John Garland, Writer/Editor, The Heavy Table/Growler Magazine
  • Michael Grabner, Wine Buyer/Sommelier, Century Wine Chanhassen
  • Greg Halberg, Professional Enologist/Owner, Maneo Wine Imports/Wine Academy/Bistro 5e
  • Mark Hart, Cold-Hardy Grape Breeder, My. Ashwabay Vineyard & Orchard
  • Beth Jones, Executive Chef, Campus Club of the University of Minnesota
  • Belinda Kemp, Senior Scientist in Enology, Brock University
  • Leslee D. Miller, Sommelier/Owner, Amusée wine consulting firm
  • Murli Dharmadhikari, Ph.D, Enologist, Iowa State University
  • Christian Nesheim, Owner, Vinifera Wines, Ales
  • Étienne Ouellet, Research Scientist, Centre de Développement Bioalimentaire du Québec
  • Annette Peters, Owner/President, Domaines & Appellations
  • Harvey Reissig, Professor, Cornell University
  • Bill Ward, Wine Writer, Star Tribune/Decant-this.com
  • Lynn White, WI State Coordinator, VESTA

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