You could say that our grape-growing region was shaped by what happened millions of years ago. But, really, it was what didn't happen.
Rewind to the last ice age. Glaciers charged through Indiana and ruthlessly flattened swaths of land, yet they never razed the resilient Indiana Uplands — a vast plateau with a rock-solid base in south-central Indiana. The Indiana Uplands effectively deflected the glaciers, preserving the contours that make this part of our state so stunning.
Fast forward to now. The surviving plateau is a 4,800-square-mile grape-growing region called the Indiana Uplands, home of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail.
Each vineyard on the wine trail undoubtedly has its nuances. But all are united by the Indiana Uplands terroir — that blend of soil, topography and climate that make our wines unique.
TOPOGRAPHY | Hills, ridges, valleys. Rolling, rugged at times. The Hoosier National Forest. Monroe Lake. This is the defining landscape of the Indiana Uplands. The plateau peaks at 1,033 feet above sea level in the northeast corner, which distinguishes it from surrounding flat land. Ridges and hills keep vineyards well-drained, which is good for our grapevines. They thrive when they have so-called “dry feet.”
Within the Indiana Uplands, three areas stand out: The Norman Uplands in the east and the Crawford Upland in the west are home to flat-topped ridges with and deep V-shaped valleys; the Mitchell Plateau in the center is a mix of steep topography and undulating plains — it’s also where you’ll find Indiana’s famous limestone quarries and caves.
SOIL | In our region, clay reigns. Technically speaking, red-yellow podzolic soils reign, and vary from silt loam to silty clay loam. Beneath it all lies bedrock, which is layers of limestone, shale, and sandstone.
You might have heard that our soils are relatively poor. It’s true, but we’ve found this to be advantageous when it comes to grape growing. Rich soils means more foliage, which would shade the grapes and potentially add unwanted character to the wine.
CLIMATE | Our vineyards benefit from four seasons and a distinctively cool growing season. The weather lets grapes ripen leisurely, so they develop more flavor and character.
Climate and topography in the Indiana Uplands work together like this: Hilltops and ridges keep air moving, limiting frost accumulation in the vineyards and extending the growing season in spring and fall. Breezes keep fruit dry and free of fungus and mildew.
Winter is a time for vines to rest and recharge. Freezing temperatures oust potential diseases, helping vineyards stay healthy and strong. There's even a drinkable upshot to the cold — ice wine, a late-harvest variety made from grapes that freeze while they're still on the vine.