Before I started writing regularly about wine and wine experiences, I tried to be a regular visitor to Indiana wineries. I had done the same in other wine regions when I lived and worked in the Rhine Valley and in the south of France, but when I came Back Home Again to Indiana in 1993, I actually did visit all the wineries in the state.
Because of these visits, permanent friendships developed with such talented wine producers and Hoosier wine pioneers as Bill Oliver, Jim Butler, Charlie Thomas, Ted Huber, and Mark Easley. I got to know and respect later producers like the Schrodts in Nashville, the Lees in Freetown, and other successful winery risk-takers in Oak Hill, Madison, Bedford, and elsewhere around the Hoosier State.
I met and remain in contact with Jeanette Merritt of the Indiana Wine Grape Council and Rick Hofstetter of Story Inn, who do a lot to keep my faster-than-ever retirement progress from losing all contact with the courageous and hard-working Indiana wine producers. But today, with more than 60 wineries in the state, hardly anyone, even those of us advanced in years, can keep up with all of them.
That’s why I urge you to get out your calendars. Two big events on the horizon will give you a chance to meet the majority of wine producers in Indiana and to sample the best of their work. The biggest event is the annual Vintage Indiana on the first Saturday in June in Military Park, Indianapolis. Ably overseen by Jeanette, Vintage Indiana attracts more than 10,000 visitors and most Hoosier producers. The day-long event — from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. has something for the entire family but offers Hoosiers a chance to see what the wine profession is really all about in this basketball-crazed state. It’s not too early to check out www.vintageindiana.com for the latest details.
As the most inconveniently located country inn in the Midwest, the Story Inn, ten miles south of Nashville, seems a most unlikely place for 5,000 visitors to gather around three big-top tents on the last Saturday in April every year, but that’s where they’ll find more than half of all Hoosier wine producers pouring their best wines — and showing off any medals they may have won in the competition held earlier in the week.
Innkeeper Rick started the Indiana Wine Fair in a single room twelve years ago; last year it took three big tops to accommodate the faithful. During the Story wine event, a panel of “average guy/gal” consumers judge wines in seven categories to hang gold, silver, and bronze medals on those they like best. Stay in contact with www.storyinn.com for current information.
Though we still encourage you to get out and visit these wineries, we know that’s neither easy nor often possible. That’s why it’s time to mark your calendar: April 27 for the Indiana Wine Fair at Story, June 1 for Vintage Indiana in Indianpolis. You’ll be glad you did.