Visitors to Four Daughters Winery enjoy wine and food on the patio area.  File photo
Visitors to Four Daughters Winery enjoy wine and food on the patio area. File photo

Archived Story

Four Daughters launches new wine brand, goes national

Published 10:33am Friday, June 13, 2014

Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery is taking its business to liquor store shelves and restaurant tables across the country.

The Mower County winery just released Sunflake Wine, the vineyard’s new wholesale line of blended wine. The winery’s owners said Sunflake is the first wine to introduce up and coming Minnesota grapes, like Marquette, Frontenac and LaCrescent, to a national audience.

“It’s very exciting,” said Justin Osborne, Four Daughters’ winemaker.

A distributor picked up Sunflake Wednesday, and about 499 cases — about 5,988 bottles — already shipped out, according to Justin. The new Sunflake wines will be available in liquor stores beginning this week and will soon appear in restaurants.

The label for Four Daughters’ new wine. Photo provided
The label for Four Daughters’ new wine. Photo provided

“As a family-owned and operated Minnesota winery, we’re proud of the grapes we have to work with,” said co-owner Vicky Vogt in a press release. “We love creating new wines that share the same quality and unique tastes that our Four Daughters wine has become known for and that has driven our success since we opened our doors. Wine consumers will soon begin to take notice of grapes from this region.”

The inaugural Sunflake vintages include a 2013 moscato and 2013 riesling blended with a variety of Minnesota grapes. Because moscato grapes produce a low acid wine, Justin said they’re an ideal match for the high acid wines that Minnesota wineries are able to produce.

“Winemaking is about chemistry, so when wines are being made you can either adjust your starting grape juice chemically or you can adjust it by blending,” Justin said in a press release. “These wines are made much better by blending in Minnesota grapes.”

With Sunflake, Justin said they’re putting Minnesota wine in a form that people who often don’t want anything to do with it will enjoy and appreciate.

Most moscato drinkers won’t know it’s a mostly Minnesota wine.

“I’ve spent the last few years working to transform what Minnesota wineries are capable of by turning University of Minnesota-bred grapes into premium wines,” Justin said in a press release. “With Sunflake, I want to reflect within the wine what makes our region and grapes so unique.”

The idea to create a new wine brand sparked after Four Daughters blended wines for guests in the vineyard’s tasting room. As the blends caught on, Justin saw the opportunity to expand and introduce something new.

“I saw an opportunity to make a wine unlike anything that’s out there currently,” Justin said in a press release.

Sunflake is a wholesale only brand and won’t be available at the winery. Sunflake will sell for an average of about $13 per bottle, according to Justin. A separate, high-end Four Daughters line is almost exclusively available at the winery.

Not all of the wine blended to make Sunflake wines is Mower County-grown. Four Daughters blends its own wine with grapes grown across Minnesota and the country, but at least 51 percent of the wine will always be Minnesota-grown, as required by the vineyard’s classification as a Minnesota Farm Family Winery. Kristin Osborne, marketing director and the daughter of owners Gary and Vicky Vogt, estimated about 70 to 80 percent of the wine in Sunflake is Minnesota grown.

Working with other wine-growers expands the possibilities of flavors, in part due to differing climates, according to Kristin.

“We want to work with growers around the state; that’s great for us,” she said. “We like having that different taste.”

Kristin said the goal is for the wines to break a barrier often keeping Minnesota wines in specialty, cold-hardy sections of liquor stores. They want Sunflake wines to be shelved with moscatos, rieslings and other varieties.

Justin has already had success with his wines, winning the Minnesota Governor’s cup and other accolades from wine competitions across the country, but he said seeing his wines reach liquor store shelves across the country is validation and a significant step.

“Now we’re a real winery,” he said.

When Four Daughters opened in December of 2011, Justin admitted they didn’t know how it would go, but expectations continue to rise. In late May, Four Daughters kicked off an expansion to double the winery’s size by adding 9,000 square feet at its location on the edge of Mower County at 78757 Minnesota 16, Spring Valley. The project will add a large event space, which will also be used to help increase the winery’s production.

Wine production has increased from 8,000 gallons in Four Daughters’ first year to 26,000 gallons last year. Justin expects production to easily top that this year, and, depending on how things go, he dreams of one day topping 50,000 gallons and even nearing the state limit of 75,000 gallons a year.

“We might come close to it,” he said.

Four Daughters shows no signs of slowing down, as a press release promised an upcoming line of Loon Juice hard cider.

“We have some additional things that are in the works,” Justin said.

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