Editor's Note: Here is story I did for Palate Press and the 22 newspapers which carry my every-other-week column. Big news for Indiana wineries today!
INDIANAPOLIS, IN. – Indiana winemakers believe validation and credibility come with the federal government’s designation of the Indiana Uplands in southeast Indiana as an American Viticulture Area (AVA).
|Jim Butler talks about the AVA|
“I think what we want to develop now is when people see the name Indiana Uplands, it conjures up something in their minds about the area and the wines,” Butler said. “We want customers to have a real familiarity they can depend on knowing that they’re going to get a good wine.”
The 4800-square-mile Uplands AVA stretches from the Morgan-Monroe County line near Bloomington south to the Ohio River, a distance of more than 100 miles. The east-west boundaries run from Jasper in Dubois County to Knobstone Ridge near Starlight, overlooking the Ohio River Valley.
“This legitimizes the area as a grape growing region,” said Kathleen Oliver, Executive Vice President of Oliver Winery. Oliver is one of the Midwest’s largest wineries. “I think that’s something we already knew. We have something special in our topography with well-drained soils and a climate ideal for growing grapes. This raises the level of awareness that there is something unique about our region. It’s just like Napa or Sonoma, we are now something special.”
There are more than 200 AVAs in the United States including the Ohio River AVA shared by West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Butler said most southern Indiana wineries have never wanted to use the AVA designation which would force them to put “Ohio” on their Indiana-made wines.
Indiana has approximately 650 acres in vineyard and 63 bonded wineries. A substantial amount of Indiana wine is made from grapes grown out of state. The nine established wineries in the Uplands AVA are Best Vineyards Winery, Elizabeth; Brown County Winery, Nashville; Butler Winery, Bloomington; Carousel Winery, Bedford; French Lick Winery, West Baden Springs; Huber Winery, Starlight; Oliver Winery, Bloomington; Turtle Run Winery, Corydon; and Winzerwald Winery, Bristow. There are also a few vineyard-only properties.
Butler said it’s a process that could take decades, but an important first step.
“We have to get the word out and tell people we have unique qualities like a Napa or Bordeaux,” he said. “We’ll eventually achieve the same level of recognition that other areas have achieved. Some of those areas have had years, if not hundreds of years, head start on us.”
The Uplands wineries also have regular wine trail activities. Check out their website here.
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