Celebrating Wine at the 2015 Indiana Hort Congress
The wine industry is alive and growing in Indiana! The Indiana Horticultural Congress, which convened its annual conference on January 20, 2015, proved that to be the case.
This year’s Grape track included several educational offerings to help those in the wine growing and wine making business. For example, the track included sessions covering tips for successful operations, cost effective tools for small and medium sized wineries, and sanitation in the vineyard and winery. One of the most popular sessions, though, was the Wine Tasting and Sharing of 2014 INDY International Wine Competition Best of Class wines.
Dr. Christian Butzke, Purdue University Professor of Enology, facilitated the lively session where participants were walked through tasting and discussion of nine Indiana wines that scored Best in Class from the 2014 competition. Among those sampled were Huber Winery’s Seyval Blanc, Oliver Winery’s Gewurtraminer, Satek Winery’s Chambourcin, and the Double Gold Medal and Best in Class winner, Tonne Winery’s Traminette.
As each wine was presented, a representative from the winery presented key attributes about how the wine was made. This openness and idea sharing reinforced that the wine industry in Indiana feels more like a family reunion than a competitive arena. As Meredith Easley, Easley Winery, stated, ‘Continue to enter your wines [into the competition], and enjoy the wines made by your neighbor.”
In addition to the established, household-name wineries which were in attendance, there were several participants with small wineries or those just starting in the business. Lori and Daniel Richcreek, owners of Tippy Creek Winery, are in the process of building their winery this year.
The couple has shared a passion for wine for years, and they have been bottling wine since their children gave them a kit for Christmas four years ago. During 2012, they decided to start pursuing their passion as a business and have spent the past few years educating themselves. Their wines include Pinot Grigio, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc, which they have been gifting to friends and family until they can complete their winery this fall.
Regarding the conference, Lori Richcreek shared, ‘I just love the fact that everyone in this industry just shares everything so openly. There are a lot of things that people don’t know about winemaking that you learn along the way. I want to be in that position someday to pay forward to another startup. We are so blessed.”
Another new winery on the horizon in Indiana is Bacchus Vineyards. The family owns a golf course, and decided to turn extra acreage into a vineyard several years ago. They have been successfully growing Seyval Blanc, Marechal Foch, and Steuben, just to name a few of the grapes in their vineyard. In fact, unlike many of the Midwest vineyards that were negatively impacted by the polar vortex last winter, Bacchus Vineyards had a record-breaking year for their Foch last year. While they have been selling their grapes for use by other wineries in the past, they have come to a decision to open their own winery this year.
Bacchus Vineyards is truly a family affair. Beth Adair is the winemaker, and her husband, Lester, is the ‘jack of all trades.” Daughter, Amanda Crain, is the assistant winemaker, and Amanda’s husband, Adam, is the vineyard manager. The family wanted a way to supplement the golf course business and still be able to work together. Amanda Crain noted that she envisions the winery as a place that can accommodate a variety of people. ‘Whether you have a penny in your pocket or a million dollars, I want to have something for everyone.”
Another highlight of the conference was the 40th Anniversary Celebration & Reception of the Indiana Winery & Vineyard Association. Jim Butler, owner of Butler Winery, emceed the event. The reception included a variety of hors d’oeuvres and a selection of delicious Indiana wines, including (among others) Butler Winery’s Twice (late harvest Vignoles and Traminette blend), Oliver Winery’s Creekbend Noir, and Rettig Hill’s Norton.
The celebration also included an informative program touching on the history of wine in Indiana by Jim Butler, a video teaser of an upcoming documentary about wine in Indiana by Escape Route Flix, and a presentation by Marshall Martin discussing taking the Indiana wine industry into the future. Mr. Martin stated, ‘Locally grown is more than a fad. [The consumers] want to know the grower; they want to know the family.”
Presentation of the Outstanding Legislator Award capped off the celebratory program. Rick Black, Wildcat Creek Winery, presented State Senator Mark Messmer (R-Jasper, IN) with the award in recognition for Sen. Messmer’s leadership on important industry legislation and advocacy on behalf of local vintners and growers. Sen. Messmer’s dedication continues as he is working on authoring legislation to reinstate wholesale privileges and improve direct shipping within the state.
Homepage photo:Lester and Beth Adair, Bacchus Vineyards
Kathi Meyer, Chief Joyologist at Wine, Love & Joy, is committed to making wine education a joyful experience. Learn more at www.winelovejoy.com