Festival Celebrates Nebraska's Wine Industry

By: Rowena Li Email
By: Rowena Li Email

Wine lovers got a special treat at the Nebraska State Fair Sunday. The first ever Wine & Grape Festival put the spotlight on Nebraska's wine industry.

"If you're putting 'wine' in one sentence and 'Nebraska' in the same sentence, ya, you don't think of that," says Mick McDowell of Miletta Vista Winery.

Nebraska may not be known for its wine, but growers say that doesn't mean the wine isn't good.

"There are some cold-climate varieties that grow very nicely here in Nebraska and they will create some tremendous flavors that offers the public a beverage that is very palatable. I think that they're going to find that Nebraska wines don't have to take a backseat to anybody," McDowell says.

Experts note that Nebraska actually had an active wine industry in the decades before prohibition, but modern Nebraska vineyards only popped up in the mid-1990s.

"We're growing steadily but not explosively and I think that's healthy too," says Professor Paul Read of University of Nebraska-Lincoln's viticulture department.

Nebraska now has more than two dozen wineries throughout the state, and their wines win competitions all over, often beating out wines from hot spots such as California and France.

12 Nebraskan wineries came to the festival to offer visitors tasting of their selections, and visitors aren't shy about what they like.

"I drink probably more Nebraska wine than any, I've had a lot of Michigan wines because I've been through there quite a bit," says visitor Tammy Weber. "But I don't know, I like Nebraska wines, it's really good and it's nice to know you're supporting your own state."


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