Posts Tagged ‘profile’


Despite the blustery snow of the Tuesday before the extended New Year’s holiday weekend, people still steadily streamed in to the Four Daughter’s Winery in Spring Valley, MN.  A mother and her son, diverted from reaching Rochester to do their holiday shopping appeared to be successfully accomplishing their mission between the wine-related trinkets in the gift shop and the quickly disappearing bottles of wine lining the western wall.  An elderly couple seemed slightly overwhelmed but curious about the menu items from the chef and a delivery driver deliberated whether to hold tight or press on as he acquired a bottle of wine for his wife.  Yet, it was noticeable each time the staff patiently went through the wine offerings; no one was there specifically for the wine.  Perhaps that crowd would roll in after noon.

The wine from Four Daughters, however, is what has recently been making a name for itself.   At the International Cold Climate Wine Competition this past August, five of the winery’s seven entries received a medal.  Their La Crescent took home the top honor of best wine at the competition.  Not bad for an operation that recently celebrated their first anniversary.  Much of this success is owed to their winemaker, Justin Osborne, whose winemaking history spans only as long as the winery’s.    Justin, a Twin Cities native, was asked by his wife, Kristin’s family to be the wine maker of their future dream and fortunately for the Minnesota wine community, he accepted.

The question is: How did someone with little experience end up besting some with 10+ years of hard work and dedication?    “I’m not the smartest winemaker in the world,”  Justin modestly declares as he struggles to illuminate his process. “You do these four things well, and stay within the lines…you’ll have a good end product.”  His goal is not to reinvent the wine making world, but to entrust solid wine making practices that have been proven to work.  Yet, instead of taking large leaps and just hoping things work out, he takes small, measured steps at each point along the way. The content sigh of someone fully dedicated to their craft comes out as he points back to a little room off of the production that he has no doubt spent countless hours in. “I do a lot of testing.”  The lab room at Four Daughters may be his second home or first depending on whom you ask.

So what are those four things needed to make good wine?

  1. Grow good grapes
  2. Get good juice out of those grapes
  3. Have a healthy fermentation
  4. Have a deft hand when refining (finishing the wine)

Simple, right?  OK, there may be a few other factors going into the success.  Being able to start off with some good equipment certainly helped.  Additionally, Justin’s wife, Kristen is part of how the winery got their namesake.  She’s one of the eponymous four daughters and her family’s agricultural background has certainly served them well in pursuing their dream to have a winery and vineyard not to mention the aid of Kristen’s marketing skills.  The family and their expert staff didn’t walk into this venture unprepared.  It also helps that the vast majority of the grapes they are purchasing are grown within 50 miles of their location.  Their location also just happens to be within the largest wine region in the world: The Upper Mississippi Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA).  See Justin’s number 1 rule.

Those visiting the winery may spot a life-sized cardboard cutout of Marilyn Monroe in a glimmering pink ball gown leaning on a wall of oak barrels.  Is it inspiration for his Frontenac Rose? He shakes his head and begins, “My mother-in-law collects them…”.  And really, that’s the only explanation a married man needs to give sometimes.  He then relates the story of how the local police department, responding to a security alarm breach on the premises almost shot the cardboard version of John Wayne hanging out near the bathrooms.  Clearly, it’s not just the customers who are pleasantly surprised by what they find what the find at this winery.

For the full audio interview check out the podcast below.  Justin spills all of his secrets…well, almost.  Regardless, if you make wine in the Midwest or just like drinking it you’ll enjoy the whole thing.

Download the podcast from iTunes


Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery

Minnesota Grape Growers Association


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