Category Archives: Travel the Trail

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

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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!

Harvest Report: 2018 in the Indiana Uplands

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! 

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

  • Posted by Indiana Uplands Wine Trail
  • Travel the Trail
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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!