INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s wine industry should receive a
boost from a recent federal announcement designating the state’s first
all-inclusive American Viticultural Area.
The Indiana Uplands AVA encompasses 4,800 square miles of
south central Indiana grape-growing terrain and nine wineries of the Indiana
Uplands Wine Trail.
Though there are more than 200 federally-designated AVAs
across the country and anyone can apply for one, the designation is difficult to
obtain, signifying a good economic engine for the state’s wine grape
“From a marketing standpoint, this will drive more people to
our wineries,” said Jeanette Merritt, marketing director of Indiana Wines and
Purdue University’s Wine Grape Team. “This is very positive from an agritourism
perspective, and it also encourages people to plant more grapes. Hopefully,
we’ll see more vineyards and wineries becoming established in Indiana.”
She added the designation should bolster Indiana’s go-local
movement by ensuring that Indiana wines are crafted by local winemakers.
The Indiana Uplands AVA runs in a swath from the
Morgan-Monroe county line near Bloomington south to the Ohio River. Its greatest
east and west distance is about 65 miles from near Jasper in Dubois County to
Knobstone Ridge near Starlight.
Indiana vinophiles hope to showcase the story of how a
south-bound glacier shaped the region’s hills, valleys, layered limestone and
bedrock to nurture prime grape-growing temperatures and create a unique
microcosm of wineries and vineyards that now are a part of Hoosier
“There is significantly more rainfall on the highly-erosive
soils of Indiana, and it has not been prime agricultural land in the past,” said
Jim Butler of Butler Winery, one of the wineries listed on the Indiana Uplands
At least 85 percent of the grapes used to make a wine must
have been grown in an AVA-designated area, and there must be evidence that the
geographical location is of distinctive soil, climate, elevation and physical
features, he added.
“Wine is a value-added product that goes hand-in-hand with
Indiana’s tourism industry, and in the larger picture, this will help our
children and our grandchildren,” Butler said.
“The designation clearly signifies to people interested in
joining our industry that this is an area where unique opportunities exist for
the grape-grower and the winemaker.”
Gina Sheets, the new director of the Indiana State
Department of Agriculture, was very enthusiastic about the federal
“In the late 1800s and 1900s, Indiana was the 10th-largest
wine-producing state in the country,” she said. “More than 2 million people come
to Indiana each year to taste our wines, generating $80 million in economic
impact for the state.”
For winemakers such as Donna Adams, owner of Winzerwald
Winery, the announcement means her family’s winery can tout the AVA designation
on their wine bottle labels so people will know they grow their own wine.
“This is a huge move in putting Indiana on the map as a
major wine grape-growing area,” she said. “Indiana obviously is a place where
good wines are being made, and we’re hoping Indiana Uplands becomes a name for a
great tourism industry in Indiana.”
She noted the trail will give credence to Winzerwald Winery,
which produces German and Swiss Rieslings, Gewurztraminer and ice wines
influenced by the German and Swiss families who settled along the river.
Adams added she hopes people visiting the trail will
discover the age-old art of winemaking, as well as Lake Monroe, Patoka Lake,
West Baden springs and the caves and underground rivers hidden within Indiana’s
“There’s been a cave in Corydon for millions of years that
they’ve only recently discovered,” she marveled. “We hope people come down here
and find their own passageways and adventures in Indiana, just as they’re
discovering the Uplands Wine Trail.”
Indiana Uplands wineries include Best Vineyards Winery in
Elizabeth; Brown County Winery in Nashville; Butler Winery in Bloomington;
Carousel Winery in Bedford; French Lick Winery in West Baden Springs; Huber
Winery in Starlight; Oliver Winery in Bloomington; Turtle Run Winery in Corydon;
and Winzerwald Winery in Bristow.