An entrepreneurial farm kid at heart, Mick McDowell was always looking for something to do, so when wine and grapes enjoyed a resurgence in Nebraska, he started dabbling in hobby wines. In 1999, a workshop on grape growing and winemaking sparked a future dream: owning a winery.
The dream became reality in 2007 when McDowell and his wife Loretta established Miletta Vista Winery, situated on a picturesque hilltop just north of St. Paul, NE, in Howard County. Years later, the endeavor still feeds the winemaker’s soul, “I enjoy the surprise of each vintage and the farming aspect of growing the grapes—it’s a constant challenge.”
Cold climate hybrid grape varietals such as Edelweiss and Brianna promoted development of the Nebraska wine industry, which currently requires that 60% of the grapes used must be grown in-state. “These grapes produce fruit-forward wines with a higher acidity,” explained McDowell. “Edelweiss is the Nebraska signature white, and Brianna, its close sister, is capable of dry whites that pair well with spicier foods.” Miletta Vista has enjoyed success with these grapes, including winning Best of Show in the US National Competition in Sonoma in 2012.
A beguiling new grape featured in the winery’s current offerings is Itasca, a dry white that is blended with Brianna. Another blend is top-selling Workhorse, which combines red varietals Marquette, Frontenac, St. Croix, and De Chaunac. The team has also dabbled in barrel aging with the Bourbon Barrel Aged Petite Pearl, a dry red with a lot of potential and a decent tannin structure, according to McDowell.
Their cleverly named wine club, comprising over 100 members, is dubbed the Miletta Vista Book Club, “because everyone knows book club is code for getting together to drink wine.” Membership benefits include complimentary wine and food, free tours, discounts, early event access, and more.
The winery hosts many events, including autumnal sunset dinners, which begin with hors d’oeuvres and wine to be savored on the patio at sunset, followed by a 4-course farm-to-table meal with wine pairings. “Our motto is that our scenic beauty is second to customer care, culinary perfection, and wines of excellence.”
For more stories like this, visit Beverages.