Cold Climate Wine Competition 2014 Report and Photos
After much swishing and spitting, winners have been confirmed at the 2014 International Cold Climate Wine Competition, held at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Conference Center in St. Paul, MN.
The Cold Climate Competition is unique because it focuses on 31 cold hardy wine grapes including cultivars developed by the University of Minnesota, the late Elmer Swenson and other private breeders including Tom Plocher. All wines in the Cold Climate Competition are generally found to be hardy without winter protection in USDA zone 4 where temperatures can go down to -25F. Only commercially available wines (minimum production of 20 cases) are eligible for entry.
The trophy for the best Minnesota grape wine, known as the Minnesota Governor’s Cup, was won by Sovereign Estates Vineyard and Winery in Waconia, MN for their single varietal 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.
La Crescent wines did very well overall in the Competition. (It’s unfortunate that La Crescent is so difficult to grow because it makes terrific wine.) Other winning La Crescent wines, all excellent by any measure, included a Double Gold Medal for Cold Country Wines and Vines near Kewaunee, Wisconsin. Husband and wife team Kay and Jay Stoeger just opened the winery in May of 2014, so they are certainly off to a good start.
Other Gold Medal winning La Crescent wines for 2014 are Parley Lake Winery, MN and Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery, WI,
In the overall white wine category, Danzinger Vineyards of Alma, WI was awarded “Best of Show” for their 2013 Golden Sunrise.
The specialty/fortified wine category “Best of Show” winner was Door 44 Winery of Sturgeon Bay, WI, with their “Bubbler” sparkling wine. (It’s good to see this popular Wisconsin winery making sparking wines with Cold Climate grapes while following in the footsteps of nationally recognized Midwest sparkling wine producers L. Mawby and Illinois Sparkling.)
For the fourth year in a row, Shelburne Vineyard of Shelburne of Vermont took “Best of Show” or top prize in the red wine category for their 2012 Marquette Reserve. Marquette was developed by the University of Minnesota and is widely grown in its home state, however Shelburne is making remarkably consistent, high quality Marquette near Lake Champlain.
A notable winner in this years competition was Leigh’s Garden Winery near Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Owner Leigh Schmidt grows many of his own grapes locally including the fruit that was used to make his Gold Medal winning Marquette.
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, former University of Minnesota Enologist.
Medal-winning wines will be featured at the Gala Dinner during the annual Cold Climate Conference hosted by the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, February 7, 2015.
For a complete listing of 2014 Cold Climate Competition award winners, see: Minnesota Grape Growers Association
Aaron Berdofe, Minnesota Grape Growers Board of Directors