FISHERS, Ind. — At Harmony Winery, you can do more than just taste wine — you can learn how to make it.
Inside the tasting room, there are stations where small groups can create their own drinks. From fermentation to label design, the experience takes consumers through the wine-creation process.
The entire process takes four to six weeks.
“We’re the only winery in the state that teaches classes on how to make your own wine like this,” said Kevin Croak, co-owner of the winery. “That’s why we designed the space the way we did — with work stations and space to make wine.”
He and his wife, Tatyana, have been making wine professionally since 2001. They’ve received close to 30 awards since then.
Croak’s first attempt at making wine wasn’t as successful as his more recent ventures.
“I started making wine when I was 16,” he said. “I was a junior in high school. My dad had a wild cherry tree in the yard. I was going to summer school for algebra. I hated algebra. When I was bored, I started harvesting all of these cherries in the yard.
“I got baker’s yeast and sugar from my mom. I mixed them all together and put them in these glass cider bottles with a metal cap. We had an old cemetery behind our house. I decided to hide my wine from my dad in the cemetery.”
When he came to check on the wine a few days later, it had exploded during the fermentation process.
Croak gave up the hobby until he was older and wiser. When he tried again years later, he had better luck.
He and his wife used two juice kits to make wine. They entered a competition and won two medals.
From 2003 to 2006, they partnered with another couple to run a winery called Grape Inspirations in Carmel. They left that business to pursue other goals and opened Harmony Winery in 2011.
“We built this business on a dream of making it a cozy environment where people can come taste wine, make wine and just hang out,” Croak said. “There’s a fireplace going, a big screen TV — it’s very cozy. People comment about that as being one of our hallmarks.
“We sell cheese and salami. On the weekend, we have a crockpot with something hot in it, like soup or stew, for people to enjoy for free. People like to congregate here.”
The winery hosts birthday, bachelorette and bridal parties frequently. Visitors can come listen to music on the vinyl player or have a seat at the bar.
Guests are encouraged to ask questions and try a variety of flavors during wine tasting sessions.
“We’ve noticed in Indiana the pallet is generally very sweet,” Croak said. “Our top selling wines are sweet, fruit wines.
“My personal favorite wine would probably be Nebbiolo, a dry Italian red.”
In preparation for Thanksgiving, the winery will host a “Wine to Bird” event Nov. 15 and 17.
“We’re making two, traditionally seasoned turkey breasts,” Croak said. “If you come here between 6 and 8 p.m., we’ll slice a piece of turkey and you can pair it with different wines to find your Thanksgiving favorite.”
The winery also is serving up its limited edition Mom’s Apple Pie wine — a green-apple Riesling that’s fermented with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.