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RV Through Southern Indiana Wine Country
Napa Valley chic meets Hoosier hospitality
By Kathryn Lemmon
For a smaller wine producing state, southern Indiana boasts about thirty-one wineries that can often compete with other wines across the country and even as far away as Germany and Portugal. If your RV travels take you
and your tastebuds are eager for flavor, spend a few days touring these local wineries.
You'll find Oliver Winery just north of Bloomington, home to Indiana University. The winery grounds are a soothing combination of bountiful flowers, native rock and plants, artfully blended and matched to the season. Megalithic pieces of limestone quarried nearby are your introduction to a region of the state referred to as the Stone Belt. Oliver is Indiana's oldest and largest winery and they are open daily, year–round, for complimentary wine tasting.
Camelot Mead has been a mainstay of Oliver and deserves a special mention. It's a honey wine, in production since 1972. As a college student back in the early 80s, I can recall first hearing about Camelot Mead. Now I've given away my age – but like fine wine, I'm improving with age!
At Oliver you can taste more than 18 varieties of premium wine from Cabernet Sauvignon to Blackberry. The timber–framed tasting room is the centerpiece of the 15 acres. They sell a wide variety of wine–related gifts and specialty foods to complete your winery experience. Visitors can take their purchases to the pond and have a relaxing picnic.
Huber Winery and Orchard
At Huber Winery, located 20 miles northwest of Louisville, family tradition and heritage matter. They can trace their beginnings to 1843, when Simon Huber made the arduous journey from Baden–Baden, Germany. He brought to Indiana his years of experience in growing fruit and making wine. Since those early days, the farm has gradually expanded to more than 600 acres. Simon Huber's vision has continued through seven generations of Hubers living and working on the farm. Now there's a dynasty!
You can easily spend the entire day at this winery and orchard. Take a winery and vineyard tour, and sample some of the 22 styles of grape and fruit wines. Huber is the state's largest wine–grape producer at 400,000 pounds of grapes per year. Its efforts have paid off with hundreds of awards from competitions across the U.S.
Huber is oriented toward the entire family. If your outing includes kids, you'll enjoy the newly renovated Children's Farm Park at Huber's Orchard, which is home to more than 300 animals. The goal is to offer a complete agricultural experience for children, beyond the usual petting zoo.
Madison, Indiana, is home to several wineries. If you've never been to this river town, tack on extra time to your plan. It's one of my favorite places, and we always find that a few hours won't suffice.
Lanthier Winery has a fascinating background, equally impressive as their handcrafted wines. In 1990, The Lanthiers purchased the winery property and began the slow restoration process. The project required a full four years of intense work, including 12 months to remove debris left from decades of neglect. There's an extreme makeover, to be sure. Its Cellar Tasting Room is believed to be an old fort or outpost established by settlers as they moved through rough Indiana territory in the mid–1700s. Trappers and explorers were drawn to the region thanks to the abundance of wild game.
The process was complete in 1994, and Lanthier Winery opened its doors in September of that year. Its current product list includes Traminette, a fragrant, fruity wine and one of several grape varieties grown in its Vevay Vineyards. Consistently popular, Traminette premiered in the autumn of 2002 and sells out every year.
While at Lanthier, you can also savor its gardens. Do you sense a trend here? Wine and gardens go hand–in–hand. Beyond nature's creations of the blooms and butterflies, man–made art is integrated into the garden.
Winzerwald Winery is one of the newer additions to the Hoosier list, established in 2002, and is located in Uniontown on Highway 62, approximately 8 miles northeast of Bristow, Indiana. Already award–winners, Winzerwald translates to "vintners of the forest" in German. Dan and Donna Adams are the proprietors. Their winery encompasses 85 acres, about half an hour north of Tell City. The Hoosier National Forest paints the scenic stage setting for this hilltop winery.
Both Dan and Donna come by their skills naturally, having descended from German wine–making families. Both earned certificates in viticulture and enology from Purdue University. In 1998, they won the Best Indiana and Best National Amateur wine awards at the Indy International wine competition; it was the first and only time an Indiana winemaker won the national honors. Not surprisingly, Winzerwald specializes in German and Swiss–influenced wines. If you prefer very sweet wines, try Glacier Vidal, a late harvest, sweet dessert wine.
Hints for Touring and Tasting
New to wine touring? Here are some general tips for wine–tasting. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Winery staff members realize some of us are novice wine–tasters and that's just fine. You can learn as you go, with no need to feel intimidated.
Do feel free to "dump," meaning you're not obligated to finish a wine sample. Most wineries will have dump buckets on or under the counter. This is perfectly acceptable, even expected.
For More Information
Huber's Orchard & Winery
19816 Huber Road
Starlight, IN 47106
(812) 923–9463, (800) 345–9463
123 Mill St.
Madison, IN 47250
8024 N. State Road 37
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 876–5800, (800) 258–2783
26300 N. Indian Lake Road (CR 39)
Bristow, IN 47515
along your route as you visit the historic homes of Indiana.