A cold November Saturday is one of those days just looking to be seized by the horns and enjoyed. Carpe diem, right? In Nebraska, weather dictates what you can and cannot do many times, but thankfully one of my favorite activities during the winter involves road trips and wineries. When you mix those good times with the scenic beauty in our area, you have what I like to call Gems in the Valley.
With gloomy skies and a brisk wind at our back, my wife and I drove the scenic paths to our destination: Miletta Vista winery just north of St. Paul, Nebraska. Miletta Vista is owned by Loretta and Mick McDowell, patrons of the Good Life and rural economic development. I’ve been a frequent traveler to Miletta Vista (and a huge fan) for about two years; the same amount of time I’ve spent in Ord and the Loup Valley. Miletta Vista is a cozy winery that is perfect for large groups seeking good times or you looking to enjoy quiet conversation with a loved one. Plus, you can enjoy the tremendous views Miletta Vista takes its name from; a perfect backdrop for sipping wines.
If you’ve been a fan since the winery opened in 2007, you’ll notice something pretty remarkable in its short 3-year life. It’s doubled in both capacity and actual built size. Demand has outstripped production and the McDowell’s often find themselves sold-out because frankly, they make stellar wines. Heck, even blogging about Miletta Vista helped Ord gain some national press from NPR in 2009.
Miletta Vista is also a perfect example of the economic impact of the locavore movement: a movement that advocates consuming local foods and products. Wine has found a niche audience even in Nebraska and folks spend a lot of money to pursue those interests. In St. Paul, our destination was no different.
Back to the good stuff: we settled into our high-top seats for a look at the wine menu. I have my favorites and ordered a bottle of the Workhorse immediately. The Workhorse is a classic full-bodied table wine that Mick and Loretta proudly claim “is a red wine for white wine drinkers.” I call it darn good and it’s found a place in my top 10 list of favorite wines of all time. My wife opted to sample the wine tasting menu and ordered up five very good but very different wines. Her favorite has always been the Edelweiss, Nebraska’s classic fruity, sweet white wine.
During our sampling, a new darkhorse wine emerged: the Wolf River. I believe the Wolf River is a new wine, very dark red and very, very good. It’s smoky, like a good Pinot Noir with hints of oak and a hint of a rich tobacco taste to it that complimented the smoky oak flavors. This is one of those stout reds that warms you on any blustery Nebraska winter day.
Through our two hours at the winery, we enjoyed our wine and dined on tasty panini sandwiches. The view was stellar as usual, and if you recall a previous post, the bald eagles even made an appearance. How about that? Wine tasting and bald eagle watching in the same afternoon? It can happen in the Loup Valley.
Alas, our short time ended at the winery and we made our 40-minute drive back to Ord. If you haven’t made the trip to Miletta Vista yet, pay Mick and Loretta a visit.
How to get there: From Ord, you’re looking at an 80 minute trip round-trip through some of the most scenic drives in Nebraska. Miletta Vista is located 5 miles north of St. Paul, Nebraska on US Hwy 281. If you’re traveling from Ord, take Hwy 11 south to the Scotia turn-off and head east on Hwy 22 until you meet US Hwy 281. Then head south about 18 miles. Miletta Vista is located on the east side of 281.