Indiana’s top wine event is unquestionably Vintage Indiana conducted in Indianapolis in early June each year.
Vintage Indiana brings 30-plus Hoosier wineries to Military Park in Indianapolis and gives thousands an opportunity to sample hundreds of Indiana wines. Unfortunately, the event nearly was drowned out this year with a day of heavy downpours. (Pun intended).
Indiana’s second-best wine celebration might be Uncork the Uplands, conducted Sunday in French Lick. Uncork celebrates the nine wineries of the Indiana Uplands Agricultural Viticulture Area or AVA.
The AVA designation is significant. The Uplands is the only AVA in Indiana. If you’re a wine drinker and like Pinot, think of the Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills or Howell Mountain in Napa. An AVA is a federally-recognized agricultural area that produces quality grapes for quality wines.
The event featured wines from all nine wineries, and visitors had the chance to talk to winemakers and winery owners. Uncork events featured plenty of small bites of food and even entertainment.
French Lick is a great location, though a bit of an effort to get there in the Hoosier heartland, and French Lick Winery has become something of an official/unofficial host. The Doty family has a long history with Indiana wine and the Uplands event.
The French Lick Winery used the Saturday event to introduce its new distillery. The VIP event signals another Indiana winery entering the competitive distillery business. Ted Huber has been the real pioneer among Indiana winemakers to jump into the distilled spirits business.
French Lick seems like a natural with the two fabulous Indiana landmark hotels and a bustling casino.
There is another event coming up that seems to get less attention. Indiana wineries pour their wines throughout the Indiana State Fair from 1 to 9 p.m. each day Aug. 5 through 21.
State fair attendees, who also are wine fans, should definitely stop by the Grand Hall across from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The event showcases wine and Indiana beer. Attendees must be 21 or older to enter.
Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, IN., writes every other week about wine for 20 Midwestern Newspapers. Write Howard at: [email protected]