KIMBALL, Minn. (WCCO) — The fall grape harvest is under way at Minnesota’s 30-plus wineries.

But after being picked, not all the fruit goes into the big steel vats to begin fermenting.

Some places, like the Millner Heritage Winery in Meeker County, set aside some of their grapes for a good old-fashioned stomping.

The winery is run by five members of a rather spirited family -– descendants of Austrian immigrants.

“My family’s been making wine — and actually whisky, too, since they came from Austria,” said Jon Millner.

It’s a family tradition that’s evolved a bit since the Millners first stepped foot in Minnesota.

They’re now growing grapevines that survive cold, cold winters, and ripen in a shortened season. They’re mostly hybrid varieties developed at the University of Minnesota.

“You won’t get a taste like this from California or Washington or New York or even in Europe,” Millner said, as he held a cluster of Frontenac grapes.

The winery, which is about 30 miles south of St. Cloud, opened for business in the summer of 2009. The Millners are about to host their second Oktoberfest on Oct. 1 and 2.

“The first one was a big hit,” Millner said, “and I think we’re going to keep doing it.”


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