Here at Millner Heritage Vineyard & Winery, we grow nine acres of grapes (about 5,000 vines.) We grow eight different varieties bred by either Elmer Swenson or the University of Minnesota. Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, Brianna, Prairie Star, Valiant, Kay Gray and Sabrevois.
The vineyard is really where the wine is made. It has been said so many times, "you cannot make good wine from bad grapes." This is a simple truth of wine making. So, it is here where the hard work has to be put in all summer long and weather willing, with a good harvest in the fall, the wine maker can make great wine. Good wine starts with good grapes.
The first vines we planted were in 2006, and every year up to 2009, we added another block of vines until we achieved our nine acres. It would be nice to have 100% of our wines come from just our grapes, but because of customers, possibly like you, our vineyard cannot quench our customers thirst. So, we do have a few other growers in Minnesota growing the same or similar varieties as well.
The winery is really the last step in making the wine. The first and most important step is raising good grapes. The winery, as is often mentioned, is where a wine maker's job is to try to let each grape achieve the potential it was set out to do. Decisions about oaking, not oaking, sweet or dry, to make it into a still wine or sparkling wine are all made here.
Our winery boasts some impressive modern wine making equipment. All stainless steel tanks, a horizontal pneumatic press, temperature control etc... but we also value older, more traditional wine making methods as well, most notably, barrels and the value they have with producing our more robust wines. Some of the wines made, Jon tries to make them more in traditional Austrian or Hungarian styles, while wines made from grapes like Frontenac are very much Minnesota originals. Come take a winery tour and see the whole process of how the wine is made!
Meet the Millner's
CEO of the company and probably the most avid singer of the Schnitzelbank. Don oversees a lot of the day to day business of running the whole operation.
Décor extraordinaire, Mary handles the gift shop, holiday decorating, and helps here and there with the various events at the winery, as well as the flower gardens.
Son of Don and Mary, it is Jon's responsibility to manage the vineyard and make the wine. Jon started his wine education as a kid watching my hobby wine making. As an adult he moved to Iowa and got involve in the vineyards and wineries there. He has done formal education of both viticulture and enology (Wine Making) with I think more information gained by self study with great enthusiasm. He is very good at keeping pace with the changing trends in grape growing and wine making.
Jon's wife, with a four year degree in Agricultural Engineering from Hungary, helps in the vineyard, the bar, the wine production, events, Book-work, and pretty much where ever help is needed. Anna having come to America in 2006 from Hungary, is a wealth of information and perspective on the vineyard and the wine. She came here not knowing she'd find a husband and have a daughter, Izabella. We enjoy her being a part of our family.
The Millner family name comes from Franz Müllner (pictured left) who came from Neuhaus, Austria around 1880, which at that time, was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Franz's wife Annastazia came with the children, Matt in particular, two years later in 1882. Later, Matt (pictured right) married a German, Theresea Gruber. Soon enough Matt and his brother-in-laws were making wine, whiskey, and many other spirits to which we have good stories of during the prohibition era.
Every generation since then has taken part in this family tradition, and it was decided in 2005 that we would take this family tradition to commercial scale. Ironically, Jon's wife Annamaria grew up in Tiszauyvaros Hungary, not too far from either Eger or Tokay. She used to work at a vineyard and winery in Baden- Wurttemburg Germany and also in a vineyard in Iowa where Jon and Anna had met.
We're a family of wine makers descending from the heart of Europe, making wine in the heart of Minnesota.