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How to Travel the Trail, Part Two: The Southern Experience

November 19, 2018 Travel the Trail

When you’re planning to travel the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail (or any wine trail for that matter) it’s best to go in with a solid strategy: map out the locations of the wineries, estimate how much time you expect to spend at each, and set out to explore the towns you’ll be visiting along the way.

Are you traveling the trail this winter to do some holiday shopping? All nine of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail Wineries will be OPEN on Black Friday, some with special sales to help you save! We look forward to seeing you along the trail this holiday season – don’t miss out on our Winter Wine Market, too.

One of the unique aspects of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is that it exists entirely within an American Viticultural Area, or AVA, called the Indiana Uplands. This geographical, wine-growing region spans 4,800 square miles- that’s a lot of ground to cover! Within the rolling hills and long, country roads which connect the 9 wineries of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, there are many places to stop, delight in local art and food, and retreat.

Planning your trip along the trail may include a whole host of experiences in addition to tasting the world-class wines that are produced in our Indiana AVA. In an effort to help you make a plan for your trail travels, we have put together some of our recommended places to stop along the way. From the northernmost winery on the trail, Oliver Winery, to the southernmost, Best Vineyards Winery, you’ll have over 100 miles to trek and enjoy the ride. Because it’s an expansive trail with so much to see along the way, we recommend breaking your travel plans up into two halves: a northern trip and a southern trip. You can spend one weekend experiencing the northern part of the wine trail (Oliver Winery, Owen Valley Winery, Butler Winery, and Brown County Winery) and another entire weekend enjoying the southern part of the wine trail (French Lick Winery, Winzerwald Winery, Huber’s Winery, Turtle Run Winery, and Best Vineyards Winery). 

The southern part of the trail is made up of the historic, cozy towns of French Lick, Corydon, Bristow, Starlight, and Elizabeth. The group of us in the southern half of the trail got together to recommend some of our favorite spots  Here are some recommendations we hope will enhance your weekend in the southern half of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail:

EAT

-Indulge in a delicious, handmade steak burger at Chillburger in Clarksville or Floyds Knobs- in the heart of Southern Indiana. The fresh, local ingredients will make you feel good about what you’re eating! To make you feel even better, this restaurant has a “meal for a meal” pledge: they donate food to a hungry child for each steak burger sold. Have two!

Photo from The Chillburger Instagram Page

-Explore the variety at The Spread Buffet at the Horseshoe Casino. Eat your way across the world right here in Southern Indiana. While each station has its own assortment and charm, our personal favorite is the “Taste of Kentuckiana” which shows of delicacies of the region.

-Snack on a bagel or a bagel sandwich at West Baden Bagel Bistro. There’s just something about the chewy, toasted texture of a bagel that makes them so enjoyable. Friendly staff, cozy atmosphere, and special events.

Photo from West Baden Bagel Bistro’s Facebook Page

-Sit down for a good meal at Bill’s on the Hill in Corydon, IN. Nestled in the beautiful Old Capital Golf Club, this restaurant prides itself on their made-from-scratch uniqueness and wholesome food. Ask about Bill’s World Famous Hand Breaded Chicken Tenders.

-Satisfy your sweet tooth at French Licks Ice Cream Shop. These homemade scoops come in flavors ranging from chocolate to cookie monster and everything in between. They’ve also got a great coffee and tea selection, plus fun, flavored sodas. Bring the kiddos.

-Gawk at the view at The Overlook Restaurant in Leavenworth, IN. This gorgeous restaurant has grown a lot since its humble beginning in 1948. The 20-mile panoramic view of the Ohio River will keep you in your seat as you enjoy delicious food and friendly people all around!

Photo from theoverlook.com

SIP

-Sit back and relax at The Exchange Pub + Kitchen in Downtown New Albany. It’s hard to say whether they’re best known for the food or the cocktails when it’s all so good! This upbeat pub carries Starlight Distillery Spirits and is within walking distance of many great boutiques and stores.

 

Photo from exchangeforfood.com

 

-Hit up the Downtown Louisville Urban Bourbon Trail. That’s right, you can enjoy a wine trail and a bourbon trail at the same time (we call that “best of both worlds”)! Several excellent tour choices (Angel’s Envy, Old Forrester, Evan Williams, etc) just across the river. 

SHOP

-Peruse the extraordinary artwork of Bear Hollow Wood Carvers. Each piece is made by hand with chainsaws! This group of artists also travels with their work, bringing the show of their craft as entertainment. Their shop is just across the street from the French Lick Resort.

 

Photo from bearhollowwoodcarvers.com

-Delight in the “new again” items at the French Lick Antique Gallery. Let the nostalgia overwhelm you as you are reminded of the good old days with trinkets, decor, and furnishings.

STAY

-Rest and feel at home at the Kintner House Inn Bed & Breakfast. Located in Corydon, IN, this charming home is perfect for romantic getaways and family trips alike. The Inn is listed on the national register of historical places for the Kintner Family’s long history which predates the Inn’s establishment in 1873. There are 15 unique rooms and plenty of quiet reading spots to enjoy.

-Become fascinated in the splendor of West Baden Springs Hotel. This is an obvious choice along the trail for travelers who are willing to spend a little on the higher end- and it’s worth it! Frequently referred to as “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” this dome-shaped hotel has been passed through many hands throughout its history beginning in 1855. Luxury awaits you at every corner…or should we say, “curve.”

Photo from frenchlick.com

-Step back in time at the Starlight Country Cabin. This historic log home is just 3 miles down the road from Huber’s and will give you a place to catch your breath! The scopic front porch, quaint fishing lake, and steamy hot tub will make you want to stay an extra night.

DISCOVER

-Support the local arts and treat yourself to a show at Hayswood Theatre in Corydon, IN. Formed in 1969 by the Women’s Literary Club, this community theater produces shows such as “Mary Poppins,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Lend me a Tenor.” Many shows sell out, so purchase your tickets in advance.

-Rev your engine at French Lick West Baden Indoor Karting. If you’re planning to bring the kids, they will appreciate this stop, too! Complete with a variety of tracks and an arcade.

-Descend into the underground at Squire Boone Caverns. Underneath our limestone bedrock sits stalactites, stalagmites, and columns formed over thousands of years. You can take tours of the caves and caverns or go on a zip-line adventure through the treetops.

Photo from squireboonecaverns.com

-Encounter an animal friend at Wilstem Ranch Animal Encounters just outside of Hoosier National Forest. This is a gem of Southern Indiana- meet Elephants, Giraffes, even Grizzlies! Reservations highly suggested.

 

Photo from wilstem.com

 

Don’t forget, this is the second half of our “How to Travel the Trail” series- you can read part one with recommendations for the northern half of the trail here.

Traveling the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is your adventure! We hope these suggestions help you make your journey through Indiana’s Wine Country worth not only remembering but worth recreating frequently. Travel the trail for the best Indiana wine experiences and so much more! See you soon!

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Harvest Report: 2018 in the Indiana Uplands

October 28, 2018 News, Travel the Trail, Vineyard

As Harvest Season came to an end, it brought tons (literally, thousands of pounds) of grapes into the wineries along the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. On the early mornings of precisely chosen days in August through October, winemakers and vineyard teams along with family members and volunteers from the community were up with excited hands and tools picking the fresh, ripe fruit from the vines. Like every year, the harvest of 2018 brought in more than just great fruit. Along with the grapes come great stories of hard work, examples of improvisation despite excellent preparation, and triumphs and forfeits in this partnership with mother nature.  Here is a peek inside the 2018 Indiana Uplands Harvest Season.

An unseasonably cold April kept the vines at the cusp of budding a bit longer than usual, which was favorable. When vines bud early, it puts them at risk to freeze should our unpredictable Indiana weather bring a late frost. This Spring was linear, fortunately, in terms of temperature; Winter held on a little long but the warm weather was here to stay once it appeared! A very warm May and June followed and the vines were frenzied. So much greenery and so many gorgeous clusters! Our teams managed the canopy growth to allow each grape cluster to receive the amount of sunlight, wind, and shade ideal for it’s varietal. Late Spring and early Summer were busy in the vineyards! 

July and August brought beautiful ripening days with long hours of sunshine, foggy mornings, and flavor development. These are the months we could begin tasting unique character in each varietal. The Catawba becomes peachy and bright, the Chambourcin deep and rich. Veraison makes the vineyard even more beautiful as the grapes grow colorful and plump!

This period of ripening also means the grapes are an inviting treat for some unwelcome guests. For Jim Butler, owner and winemaker at Butler Winery, “bees were at a minimum and none of the pickers were bitten by any wild creatures.” Small victories along the way make for a more enjoyable harvest season!

Birds, in particular, attempt to cause trouble for our vineyards. Indiana Uplands Wine Trail winemakers sometimes go to extreme measures to keep the birds away- next time you’re visiting Turtle Run Winery ask Jim Pfeiffer how he managed to use classic rock, fireworks, and a “bird blaster” to avoid giving up his grapes to the eager birds. At Winzerwald Winery, one crop of grapes in their River Vineyard was netted for bird control to protect these grapes used to make Winzerwald’s Heirloom Wine. Donna and Dan Adams (owners and winemakers at Winzerwald Winery) reported, unfortunately, that some raccoon and opossum visitors seemed to make their way through the netting to picnic on the vines. Little did they know we were all planning for a really delicious wine from those grapes! There is hope for next year.

Despite that small hiccup, Winzerwald Winery enjoyed their very first harvest of Chambourcin, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc from their Ridge Vineyards! Donna Adams said, “while in very small quantities, these grapes matured well and should produce excellent first vintages.”

Along with Winzerwald Winery, the IUWT wineries in the further south portion of the AVA (Huber’s Winery and Turtle Run Winery) tend to harvest a bit earlier than the wineries in the northern part of the Indiana Uplands (like Oliver Winery, Butler Winery, and Owen Valley Winery). The slightly warmer temperatures in the southern half of the region do allow the grapes to bud and ripen a bit earlier than those in the slightly cooler central portion of the region.

September was rainy, as you may remember. Increased rain can be worrisome for some of our delicate white grapes like Traminette and Vignoles in the vineyards of the more northern wineries. While winemakers may have hoped for more sunshine days, the forecast for heavy precipitation meant careful attention and action in order to avoid rot. Increased wetness can also over-water our vineyards, diluting the sugar and acidity levels we aim for at harvest, and eroding the nutrient-rich soils from our hilly landscape. Using their years of experience and weather forecasting tools, IUWT winemakers had to devise a plan to leave the delicate fruit on the vines long enough to develop ripeness and flavor, but to harvest them before rains could cause trouble. Dennis Dunham, winemaker at Oliver Winery said, “some of the varietals that could be more sensitive to the rain cooperated and ripened just before the rains came.” Fortunately, the warmth of the summer had given us enough ripeness to avoid panic from the rain.

Nearly 90 degree days in late September and October kept us on our toes as we wrapped up the 2018 harvest. “This is what I LOVE about growing grapes here,” says Jim Pfeiffer, owner and winemaker at Turtle Run Winery. “Each year delivers a new and exciting challenge.”

Brown County Winery just planted their first vines in 2018 and were happy to report that “none of our vines died and they all look really healthy!” The Schrodt family looks forward to harvesting a little fruit next fall, and continuing to nurture these vines for future harvest seasons!

Jim Butler wraps it up perfectly. “All-in-all a good year and we are looking forward to some great wines.”

Travel the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail to learn more about our wines and our vineyards! 

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Hard Work and Tasty Rewards: Harvest Season in the Indiana Uplands

September 24, 2018 Interview, News, Vineyard

The Indiana Uplands Wine Trail has been in full “Harvest Mode” for the last few weeks! Most of August, September, and October you can find us out in the vineyards picking and beginning to press our freshly-harvested fruit. Most harvests are done in the morning, starting before sunrise to harvest the grapes while they’re cool and keep the temperature low as they head to the press. This helps preserve the exact level of ripeness determined to be perfect for harvesting for each style of wine and each winemaker’s goals.

The winemaking process, of course, begins long before harvest: when winemakers are deciding where, when, and how much of a varietal to plant and determining the plans for many wines and many years to come. Spreadsheets and databases are created to plan and track the growing process, considering variables like seasonal temperatures and rainfall, and allowing for adjustments along the way. Each season has its own part in the winemaking cycle: Fall is for harvesting and beginning crush and fermentation, Winter is for pruning vines and moving new wines into the aging process, Spring brings opportunities to bottle some wines and begin testing others, and Summer is when the grapes are becoming ripe and we are maintaining leaf canopies and preparing for harvest. As the summer drifts on and the optimal balance of sunshine-days and rain-days is near, the winemakers will test the fruit frequently, often bringing samples into the lab every day to note levels of sugar, acidity, and flavor of course! With each opportunity to taste and test the fruit, the winemaking team can begin to narrow in on a window of time to harvest: sometimes we may leave the grapes on the vine another day or two if the forecast is clear while other times a rainy forecast for Friday can mean a speedy harvest for Thursday. The ideal ripeness and chemical levels are determined by each winemaker and depends on the style of wine being made, the grape varietal, and the season’s yield. 

Of note, our location in the Indiana Uplands uniquely affects our ability to grow certain varietals and the ways we can mature vines, develop flavor, and maintain healthy soil for growing wine grapes. Winemakers choose varietals they believe will grow nicely given our south-central Indiana climate, topography, and soils. Our area, known as the Indiana Uplands, was officially recognized in 2013 as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). Now one of 238 AVAs in the country and the only one entirely within Indiana, we’re proud to be the wine trail that represents this area. 

While the winemaking process is extensive and involves all aspects of a winemaking team, it’s hard to deny that the most exciting (and most strenuous) part is harvest season! The vines are buzzing with hand-harvesters and mechanical ones, picking every last delicious grape and cluster from the perfectly parallel rows. Production teams work early mornings and into late nights to ensure the grapes and juices are handled perfectly along their journey into becoming wine. Some of the trail wineries even ask for volunteers to help during harvest season. They’ll send out a request on Facebook or Instagram asking for help picking grapes, sometimes for a harvest the very next morning. This is a great opportunity for our community of wine lovers and neighbors to become a part of the process and really get their hands dirty with us. Make sure to follow all nine of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail wineries on their social media pages if you’re interested in hearing about opportunities to harvest!

Look out for a Harvest Report soon- we’ll tell you how each winery’s crops turned out and give you a look at the wines you can start getting excited to taste! As you travel the trail and visit each winery this fall, ask about harvest and make sure to taste estate-grown wines along the way. Don’t forget your 15th Anniversary Passport, only valid through 2018, and make sure to get all 9 stamps to redeem your IUWT stainless steel wine tumbler. 

 

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Summer Wine Cocktail Recipes - made with wines from the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail

July 12, 2018 Awards, DIY

Summer Wine Cocktail Recipesmade with wines from the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail

Temperatures reaching higher and the sun staying up later can mean only one thing: it must be summertime! The grapes in our in our Indiana Uplands vineyards are flourishing. They count on these long, hot, Indiana days to soak up the sunshine and develop their delicious flavors, ripening eagerly as they await their wine destiny. We hope you’re spending your long days enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor, watching the kids splash in the water, and treating yourself to the summer food and drinks you crave year-round.

Of course, part of thoroughly enjoying your summertime is enjoying summertime wines! One of the wonderful things about wine is it’s versatility. While sometimes you’d enjoy a zesty, dry red Zinfandel with your freshly-grilled meats and veggies, other times it’s the cold glass of Riesling that really hits the spot instead. The hundreds of wines you can find along the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail truly speak to that versatility- there’s something for everyone, every occasion, and every meal. You might be surprised to find that sometimes we like to mix things up even further; with a little ice, a splash of creativity, and Indiana Uplands Wine, we can put together quite the summer wine cocktail. Try our recipes or create some of your own this summer to really impress your friends (and yourself)!

 

Blackberry Mojito 

Made with Blackberry wine from Butler Winery.

 

Little Rhineland Orange

Made with Winzerwald Winery‘s 2018 Indy International Gold Medal-Winning wine: Little Rhineland White.

-3 parts Little Rhineland White

-1 part orange juice

-splash of club soda

Pour over ice, garnish with a fresh orange slice.

 

Watermelon Wine Cooler

Made with Oliver Winery‘s  Bubblecraft White wine.

-4 parts Bubblecraft White

-2 parts watermelon juice

-1 squeeze lime juice

-dash of simple syrup

Make your own watermelon juice by blending cubed watermelon and straining the juice. Serve this over ice with a mint leaf garnish.

 

Zingin’ Strawberrita 

Made with Strawberry wine from Best Vineyards Winery.

Did you know you can have many of these Indiana Uplands wines shipped straight to your door? Visit these wineries websites (linked in their names above) or give them a call for shipping information. We hope you enjoy mixing up some summer delights for your friends and family! Cheers!

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How to Travel the Trail, Part One: The Northern Experience

June 25, 2018 Travel the Trail

When you’re planning to travel the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail (or any wine trail for that matter) it’s best to go in with a solid strategy: map out the locations of the wineries, estimate how much time you expect to spend at each, and set out to explore the towns you’ll be visiting along the way. One of the unique aspects of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is that it exists entirely within an American Viticultural Area, or AVA, called the Indiana Uplands. This geographical, wine-growing region spans 4,800 square miles- that’s a lot of ground to cover! Within the rolling hills and long, country roads which connect the 9 wineries of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, there are many places to stop, delight in local art and food, and retreat.

Planning your trip along the trail may include a whole host of experiences in addition to tasting the world-class wines that are produced in our Indiana AVA. In an effort to help you make a plan for your trail travels, we have put together some of our recommended places to stop along the way. From the northernmost winery on the trail, Oliver Winery, to the southernmost, Best Vineyards Winery, you’ll have over 100 miles to trek (hopefully with your windows down) and enjoy the ride. Because it’s an expansive trail with so much to see along the way, we recommend breaking your travel plans up into two halves: a northern trip and a southern trip. You can spend one weekend experiencing the northern part of the wine trail (Oliver Winery, Owen Valley Winery, Butler Winery, and Brown County Winery) and another entire weekend enjoying the southern part of the wine trail (French Lick Winery, Winzerwald Winery, Huber’s Winery, Turtle Run Winery, and Best Vineyards Winery). 

The northern part of our trail is made up of the quintessential Indiana towns of Spencer, Bloomington, and Nashville. The group of us in the northern half of the trail got together to recommend some of our favorite spots  Here are some recommendations we hope will enhance your weekend in the northern half of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail:

SHOP

-Ponder the eclectic items at The Dragonfly Gallery gift shop on the square in Spencer. Seasonal items and timeless pieces can be found here in the restored Odd Fellows Meeting Hall. Learn how this little shop is helping to restore the vibrancy of this one-of-a-kind Indiana town!

-Delight in the quaint shops in the Village of Nashville. Unique hand-made items from local artisans abound in this little heart of Brown County. You will not leave empty-handed!

Photo from browncounty.com

EAT

-Enjoy the spice of life at Jit’s Thai Bistro in Spencer. This small, family-owned Thai spot serves up daily lunch and dinner specials with a homemade touch. Try their pineapple fried rice if you’re a fan of the sweet & savory combination of flavors!

-Step into the upbeat scene of downtown Bloomington at Malibu Grill. This laid-back, yet stylish, restaurant serves up healthy portions of steak, seafood, and a little bit of everything in-between. Sit on their front porch and enjoy the sights and sounds of this friendly college town.

-Indulge in historically-proven frozen treats at The Chocolate Moose in Brown County. This local company has been serving up their homemade flavors since 1933!

Photo from the Chocolate Moose- Brown County Facebook Page

-Craft the perfect night out at Big Woods Brewery: creative pub fare, delicious local beer, and toe-tapping live entertainment! Go for dinner or for an afternoon brew in cozy Nashville.

-Savor the funky atmosphere and fresh, elevated dishes at Uptown Cafe on Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner- check this one off your list as soon as you get the chance.

Photo from the Michael’s Uptown Cafe Facebook Page

SIP

-Re-energize at 5-star Main Street Coffee in the heart of Spencer. They serve small lunch bites and baked goods along with their rich, hot coffee and espresso drinks. Enjoy the charming, historic setting and friendly service, too.

-Take a “farm-to-fifth” tour at Gnawbone’s Bear Wallow Distillery and taste their Indiana spirits! Feel pride in supporting this woman-owned, family-operated business and saying “cheers” to their Indiana traditions.

Photo from bearwallowdistillery.com

-Enjoy craft beer at Upland Brewing’s Brewpub and Wood Shop in Bloomington. Sample their variety of beers in a flight from their 12 rotating taps. Take a tour at the Wood Shop and learn how sour beers and produced. Some of their sours even use grapes from the Indiana Uplands to develop distinctly local fruit flavors!

Photo from The Upland Brewing Company Facebook Page

-Stop in at Cardinal Spirits for yet another taste of the Bloomington craft scene. Vodka, Gin, Liqueur, and more!

STAY

-Retreat in the hills, in style. Brown County Log Cabins has a place for you and your friends (or your entire family) for the weekend. Find a cabin with a hot tub for those chilly Indiana evenings or a cabin with a game room to keep the while family occupied!

-Explore Indiana’s oldest state park, McCormick’s Creek State Park, when you stay at the Canyon Inn in Spencer. With so much scenery and nature to take in, you might just need to stay two nights.

Photo from in.gov

-Make yourself at home at the Grant Street Inn in Bloomington. This cozy inn, made up of 5 unique buildings, has a variety of rooms to match your personality. Some showcase an old-world feel, while others have all the modern comforts for the urban traveler.

DISCOVER

-Appreciate the wonderful, local artwork and historical collections at the Brown County Art Gallery. Rotating exhibits and events mean the gallery will never look the same twice!

-Uncover rare books, manuscripts, and special collections at the Lilly Library on the Indiana University Campus. This library welcomes scholars from around the world to visit its unique exhibits and delve into its rare collections.

-Become one with the Indiana Uplands in the hidden Green’s Bluff Nature Preserve. Enjoy the quiet, rolling of the hills and the cool water of Raccoon Creek. The trails are full of unusual plants, steep cliffs, and one of Indiana’s longest caves: Boone’s Cave. Experienced hikers rejoice in finding this hidden gem!

Photo from mikehabeck.com

-Tour the T.C. Steele State Historic Site in Brown County. Honor the artistic tradition that began in this area in 1907 when Theodore Clement Steele made his home in Brown County.

-Revive your youthful curiosity at WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology in Bloomington. This is a must for those traveling with kids- play, learn, experiment, and create at this one-of-a-kind museum.

 

Traveling the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is your adventure! We hope these suggestions help you make your journey through Indiana’s Wine Country worth not only remembering but worth recreating frequently. Travel the trail for the best Indiana wine experiences and so much more! Keep your eyes out for part two of this how-to series for ideas of places to visit when you travel the southern portion of the AVA. See you soon!

 

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Indiana's First Wine Trail Celebrates 15 Years

April 17, 2018 Events, Meet the Trail

What began 15 years ago was a culmination of decades-long grape growing, winemaking, and welcoming wine lovers. In 2003 we created the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail- the first wine trail in Indiana and the only trail of it’s kind. The trail became a way for people to taste and explore the great wine being produced in our Indiana Uplands region. Over the last 15 years, we’ve discovered even more. With nine award-winning wineries, hundreds of locally-produced wines, and thousands of visitors each year, the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is proud of its first 15 years and looks forward to the next 15.

 

Our story

Our roots as a trail were established long ago, when the Huber family began planting grapes in Starlight, Indiana around 1840. This farming family came to Indiana from Germany with a wealth of experience in growing fruit and other crops. Fortunately, Simon Huber also had winemaking knowledge and interest, and knew his new land would be ideal for producing wine. Of course, our region has evolved quite a bit since the 1840’s. After prohibition, there was a long period of inactivity until Indiana’s winemaking began to flourish once again in the 1960’s with Professor William Oliver’s vineyard just northwest of Bloomington.  Since then, many grape-growers and winemakers have developed, and the Indiana Uplands has been recognized as a unique wine region (keep reading for more on that). Harvest is now plentiful each year for dozens of vineyards across the state. Over the years, Indiana winemakers have shared knowledge and learned from one another, forming a community around the art and science of winemaking. 

In 2003, a community of leading winemakers in the Indiana Uplands decided to establish the Indiana Uplands Grape Growers Cooperative and the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. A wine trail is connected not by a direct route or path, but by a common goal and a shared experience to offer visitors. The trail was established as a way to highlight the fruit and wine being produced by the rich agriculture of the Grape Growers Cooperative, and to encourage visiting wine lovers to enjoy an experience at multiple Indiana wineries. Each winery has unique qualities and experiences to provide, and can produce a shared value in promoting one another. The trail’s founding winemakers agreed to provide top-notch wine and visitor experiences and to guide visitors along the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail to discover everything this region has to offer. 

 

Indiana’s Wine Country

The Indiana Uplands is a geographical region that spreads across 19 counties and makes up 4,800 square miles in south-central Indiana. In 2013, The Indiana Uplands was federally recognized as a unique region for growing grapes. The Indiana Uplands American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the first and only AVA entirely within the state of Indiana. This official recognition as an AVA proved true what our winemakers had known all along: the rolling hills, clay soil, limestone bedrock, and cool growing season cultivate and ripen grapes in a way that is unique to any other region. We are proud that the wineries who made up the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail were responsible for putting together the petition for this official AVA recognition. After years of gathering information and support, Jim Butler of Butler Winery submitted the petition in 2006, which finally received approval in 2013. The Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is entirely contained within the Indiana Uplands AVA. We represent Indiana’s Wine Country and welcome you to come explore!

How to #travelthetrail

If you have a weekend to spare or enjoy taking day trips to explore, consider traveling the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. You can visit all nine wineries in one weekend or visit a few here and there, completing the entire trail at your leisure. We think it’s most fun to plan your trail travels all within one year, so you can compare and contrast the wines, the vines, and the experiences at all the wineries while still in recent memory. Maybe you discover a new favorite grape, like Catawba, and make a point to taste each Catawba wine you come across along the trail- while they are made from the same grape varietal they will all have unique tastes! Wherever you decide to begin, pick up a trail passport (new VIP passports being released this year!) and get it stamped at each winery. Once you’ve visited all nine, you can turn in your completed passport for a souvenir gift from us. If you complete a VIP Passport in 2018, you will receive our 15th Anniversary gift: an Indiana Uplands stainless steel wine tumbler!

We also host trail-wide events and themed weekends (such as Chocolate Lover’s Weekend and our upcoming 15th Anniversary Weekend) to bring the winery experiences together for special occasions. Our largest event, Uncork the Uplands, brings wine and people from all nine wineries together to the same place for one day- the 2018 event will be the 8th annual!

Traveling the trail has never been more exciting than it is now! From large wineries with over 100 employees to small wineries where you are greeted by the winemakers themselves, we pride ourselves on the adventure you can find as you travel the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. Travel the trail with people you love and prepare to visit again and again! Download a trail map here.

Celebrating 15 years

2018 marks 15 years as a wine trail and grape grower’s cooperative- we think that’s worth celebrating! We’re throwing ourselves a little celebration to honor our anniversary and we hope you’ll visit to help us commemorate this milestone. On April 21 & 22, each winery will have a sweet treat to offer along with your wine tasting to “cheers” to 15 years. See our 15th Anniversary Facebook event for more information. We will also be releasing our new VIP Passport during the anniversary weekend- be one of the first to travel the trail as a VIP! See you there!

A look at the next 15 years

We can only imagine what’s to come in the next 15 years. It has been a pleasure sharing our wines with you and we can’t wait to welcome you back to the Indiana Uplands soon. Here’s to another wonderful 15 years!

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An Indiana Uplands Vineyard Update

March 15, 2018 Interview, News, Vineyard

Winter is passing by once again, and we’re looking forward to the bright colors and sunlight to come with spring! Here among the vineyards in the Indiana Uplands, each season has its unique qualities and demands. Of course, we can’t perfectly predict the variety of highs and lows to come in each year’s weather patterns, but our winemakers and vineyard managers have plans for vine management in each season. The steps we take throughout the winter, spring, and summer optimize growth and lead to the high-quality fruit we are proud to harvest in fall.

So, how has this winter shaped up in Indiana’s Wine Country and what have we been up to the last few months? We sat down and uncorked a bottle of Turtle Run’s Catawba with owner and winemaker Jim Pfeiffer to bring you an Indiana Uplands Vineyard Update:

  • This winter has been relatively steady, considering our capricious climate. Tracking temperatures year-to-year is critical to our successes, according to Jim. He recalls the iconic 2012 “Polar Vortex” of drastically colder temperatures and explains how overall lows during winters have been lower since then. “While the overall winter average daily temperature hasn’t gone down per se, our lows have gone from bottoming out around 14 degrees to now around zero or just above. That’s a big difference.” Despite this new normal, 2018 hasn’t brought any extended dips in temperature or extremely harsh days that would throw off or concern our vineyard managers.
  • We’re still looking out for cold temperatures through April. March has been cooler than normal, which is keeping eager vines at bay. That’s a good thing, Jim says, as we don’t want budding new shoots to arrive too early and risk their demise with the potential of a late frost. “The longer we can extend the cold and delay bud break, the better.” In keeping a close eye at weather patterns each year, Jim has noted that the weeks of April 3-8 and October 1-4 tend to bring strong cold fronts. So, we’ll be happy if bud break holds on until closer to that week in April, and then the green can begin to flourish on the vines from there.
  • The grape varieties we’re known for do very well in our winters. Part of successfully growing grapes in the Indiana Uplands AVA is knowing which varietals can withstand our unique climate. We’re not in Central California; we are in beautiful, Southern Indiana! Our land enjoys four distinct seasons, and winter is just as important as the rest. The cold gives our vines time to rest, recharge, and get ready to produce delicious fruit. The hybrid varieties many of our wineries grow (like Traminette, Chambourcin, and Catawba) are happy here in the Indiana Uplands, and can withstand zero degree winters with little to no trouble. One of Jim’s most winter-hardy varietals at Turtle Run is Frontenac: “We planted Frontenac several years ago, and every single bud is alive all the way to the end of the canes.  It’s crazy.  Crazy awesome, that is.”
  • Our vineyard crews have been very busy pruning. “How we prune our vines is absolutely paramount to our successes for the upcoming season,” Jim says. While harvest season in the fall is the height of busyness among the vines, our crews are diligent in the winter and spring, carefully pruning the vines to perfection. Selective cutting of shoots helps us manage the amount of clusters growing on each vine as well as the amount of leaf canopy over the clusters. It is vital that we optimize the number of grape clusters on each vine as to take full advantage of the vine’s nutrition for each cluster- a quality over quantity approach. Canopy management allows us to control the amount of sunlight and the impact of cool breezes on the grapes. Sunlight helps the fruit ripen and develop rich flavors while the breezes control temperatures and help fight disease. Prune, prune, prune.

We’re looking forward to a bountiful growth in our vineyards this year, and we’re excited to share with you the wonderful Indiana Wines to come! Come see us along the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail so we can pour you a glass.

Cheers!

 

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How To: Pair Wine & Chocolate & Why They Make Such A Great Couple

February 4, 2018 Events, pairings

Chocolate and wine are a classic coupling- one you can always depend on and look forward to enjoying. Both complex and exceptional on their own, wine and chocolate are entirely lovely together. Thank goodness someone had the idea to make this match! Have you ever wondered, though, what makes them such a great couple? Here are some tips for pairing wine and chocolate and a few reasons why they work so well together:

  1. Look for common ground. Whether that’s in texture, flavor, or ingredients, it’s a good place to start. Rich, creamy chocolates will pair nicely with deep, luxurious wines. The smooth, full-bodied texture of French Lick Winery’s Chambourcin would be divine alongside a velvety, dark chocolate truffle. A raspberry dark chocolate ganache is delightful with Best Winery & Vineyards’ Red Raspberry wine.
  2. Sip, bite, sip. For the best experience, we recommend this method. Take a sip of your wine and enjoy it. Then, take a bite of the chocolate and before it’s all gone, take another sip of your wine. Notice how the lingering flavors of the chocolate change the taste of the wine! Try it. You can thank us later.
  3. Opposites attract. It’s true! While finding similarities in your wine and chocolate are a good place to begin (see tip #1), don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes the nutty, salty, chocolate turtle just needs a sip of a smoky, buttery Chardonnay. Or, if you’re more of a sweet wine fan, you might love the fruity, refreshing nature of Vignoles alongside your chocolate turtle. You can test out both of these ideas at Turtle Run Winery, of course!
  4. Think inside the glass! Wine and chocolate pairing can go much further than just having a piece of chocolate with your wine. Have you ever heard a wine described as “chocolatey?” Sometimes, wines are actually infused with chocolate. More frequently, however, a winemaker has found the perfect blend of grapes, oak, and time to create a sophisticated wine which might be so rich and bold that it reminds you of chocolate. Take Huber Winery’s Ruby Port, for example- while this would be an exceptional wine to pair with a refined chocolate, it makes a sweet-tooth satisfying dessert all on its own.
  5. Quality matters. While it’s perfectly fine to snack on your favorite old-school candy bar while you drink your favorite wine and watch The Voice, that’s not what we’re talking about here. If you’re looking for a wine and chocolate pairing to “wow” your taste buds and your friends, seek out high-quality products from sources you know and trust. Surely, your town has local chocolatiers or bakeries making fresh treats daily! Take Schimff’s Confectionery in Jeffersonville, IN, for example: this family-owned candy business has been making delicious goodies since 1891! You can find Schimpff’s items at both Huber’s and Turtle Run winery during Chocolate Lover’s Weekend this year.
  6. If you like it, it’s a good pairing. This is the last tip and likely the most important of all. We are sharing some good ideas and knowledge behind pairing wine and chocolate, but the truth is: there are no rules. If you taste a wine and chocolate pairing that you adore, it’s a good pairing! Trust your preferences and treat yourself to something you love.

 

Join us for the wine and chocolate pairing event of the year- Chocolate Lover’s Weekend! Visit all nine wineries along the Indiana Uplands Wine trail for complimentary chocolates with each wine tasting. Explore Indiana’s Wine Country with your Valentine, February 10 & 11, 2018. More information on our website or follow along on Facebook for details! See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holidays in the Uplands 2017

November 21, 2017 holidays, News

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Adventures in Taste

April 4, 2017 Interview, Meet the Trail

A trip through Indiana’s wine country is a precious experience. Not only do you get to taste fantastic Hoosier wine, eat delicious food, and see an area of the world that is famed for its viticulture & beauty, but you get a peek into the inner workings of the daily life of a winery. 

No matter which winery you visit (especially here in the Indiana Uplands) you’ll encounter a variety of tasting experiences and wine lovers, just like you!

Name: Kathy Bodle-Perez
IUWT Winery: Oliver Winery
Years at Oliver Winery: 13 Years

Please describe your role at the winery:

I help run the tasting room and try to make sure everything is in place so that customers can have the best experience possible. I also give tours which is a really entertaining part of my job. I get to interact with a group of guests who really want to know all about our winery and the great wines that we make.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Being able to work with awesome, interesting and kind people and being able to help them by doing whatever it takes to make our customers experience the very best it can be.

What are your favorite wines at your winery?

Our sparkling wines made in the champagne method and our dry reds!

How do you taste wine? Please walk us through a wine tasting.  

The method we like to use is the five s’s which involve using all of your senses. The first step is seeing the pretty color of the wine and examining the clarity by tilting the glass and looking through the wine towards the light or against the lighter colored tasting list.

How do I smell? Is swirling a glass important?

Swirling is the second step in wine tasting. Swirling releases the volatile esters, the essence that our winemakers protect throughout winemaking so that you can enjoy the really fruit forward quality of our wines. Having swirled the glass you can better enjoy the aromas. (Smelling is the third step.)

The fourth step is everybody’s favorite, sipping the wine! I want to make sure that I have described the wine before the customer sips, giving them an expectation of what they are about to discover.

The last step in wine tasting is savoring the wine and that is giving some thought to what just happened with your senses. Does the taste linger, did the wine excite different parts of your palate, and maybe most important, do you need another sip?

Is there a “right” or “wrong” answer to how it smells or tastes?

No. I feel that if I present the flavors and smells appropriately customers won’t be surprised at what they are smelling and tasting. This leads to their tasting being right for them. I am successful when they learn what they enjoyed and have some new adjectives to describe that. Wrong would be if I couldn’t be bothered to help them understand what to expect. Each individual has their own sense of taste and we are just trying to help them get in touch with that and figure out how to describe what they enjoy. 

What is dry?

Lacking sweetness. Sometimes our winemakers balance the acidity and fruitiness of the wines so well that it actually mimics sweetness. Others of our dry wines just are rich and fruity in a way that doesn’t require any sweetness to be delicious.

What should a customer expect to gain from a wine tasting?

A better understanding of what their taste in wine is. If we can help them through learning about how to appreciate wine using all of their senses they almost always walk away with a better ability to make wine choices in the future.

 Any tips for a customer before visiting a winery for the first time?

Go to that winery’s website and find out what all they offer and call ahead with any questions you have regarding when to do a tasting and/or tours. Most wineries will offer directions and any scheduled events that you might want to know about before you make your trip.

What do you love most about the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail?

The uniqueness of each winery on the trail. For example, ours is both the oldest and the largest producing. Also, the family story of Oliver Winery is a great one. Come out and do a tour, I don’t want to give it all away!

I have other favorite wineries on the trail and have visited all of the different wineries on the Indiana Uplands trail several times. I think the common thread of our wineries is the growing of grapes and winemakers who have a passion for their craft. We all support each other and have great pride in being part of such a beautiful geography, The Uplands, in such a beautiful part of the state.

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