Three Oak Winery of Albert Lea wins top awards at international wine competition

Published 9:29 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

After much swishing and spitting, winners have been confirmed at the 2015 International Cold Climate Wine Competition at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Conference Center in St. Paul.  The trophy for the best Minnesota grape wine known as the Minnesota Governor’s Cup, was won by Three Oak Winery of Albert Lea for their single varietal 2014 Frontenac Gris. 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 seventh year the traveling trophy has been awarded.

The Three Oak Winery 2014 Frontenac Gris also won the Best of Show or top prize in the white wine category. In addition, the winery received a gold designations for their 2014 Frontenac Gris and silver for their 2014 La Crescent.

Lincoln Peak Vineyard of New Haven, Vermont, took Best of Show in the red wine category for their 2013 Marquette. The Best of Show award for rosé wines, awarded this year for the first time, was won by  Shelburne Vineyard of Shelburne, Vermont, for their 2014 “Whimsey Meadow Rosé,” a Marquette-based blend from cold-climate grapes . The specialty/fortified wine category Best of Show winner was Millner Heritage of Kimball, for their 2012 “Müllner Nice” Frontenac Gris Dessert Wine.

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This year’s competition included 308 wines from 60 commercial wineries in 10 states and Canada. 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 five- or six-judge panels and all 21 judges determined 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, Northeast, 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, Gary Gardner, Professor of Horticultural Science in the University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and Aaron Berdofe, Member of the MGGA’s Board of Directors. Sponsors include the Minnesota Farm Winery Association, Clements Lumber of Morgan and the law firm of Winthrop & Weinstine of Minneapolis.

The competition is open to commercial wineries meeting the criteria for cold-hardy grape and fruit content. In 2015 a total of eight double gold, 23 gold, 80 silver, and 96 bronze medals were awarded. In addition, “Best of Show” designations were awarded to wines rated as the finest in the available categories.