Yesterday was a Day to Remember for Indiana wine production. The United States Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau declared the Indiana Uplands to be an American Viticultural Area (AVA). An AVA is a designated wine production area based on such things as topography, soil type, climate, and elevation.
The idea of designated wine areas started in France in the early twentieth century. French producers, wanting to protect the integrity of their finest wines, imposed rigourous requirements for wine production in specific areas, to include the kind of grape varieties to permit in a location and the number of vines per acre. This system of appellation controlee has been replicated around the world, and the AVAs use it as a basic model.
An AVA has no limits on varieties or yields but they do require that at least 85% of the grapes on the label come from within that region. That means that when you buy a bottle of Indiana wine with AVA on the label, you have a wine whose grapes were Indiana grown. In a statement released yesterday, Lt. Governor Sue Ellsperman said “having an American Viticultural Area declared for the Indiana Uplands truly shows just how important our vineyards are to our agricultural industry in Indiana.”
This newest of America’s 200 AVAs covers an area of 4,800 square miles from Monroe County to the Ohio River, from Jasper to to Starlight and includes the following wineries: Best Vineyards; Brown County; Butler; Carousel; French Lick; Huber; Oliver; Turtle Run; and Winzerwald.
Jeanette Merritt, marketing director of Indiana Wines, explained that this designation “is another indicator of how the industry is regarded outside our state in terms of product quality, economic development, and agri-tourism.”
Now the Indiana Uplands can stand side-by-side with AVAs in California, the Pacific Northwest, and other highly acclaimed wine regions in the United States.