News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 21, 2013

GRAPE SENSE: Wineries, artisan food businesses pair up for ‘Uncork the Uplands’

Howard Hewitt
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — Indiana’s best wine region is pairing up with some of the state’s better-known artisan food producers for the third annual “Uncork the Uplands.”

Ten Uplands wineries will pour wine beside artisan food businesses from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center.

The Indiana Uplands grape growing designation (AVA) was awarded by the federal government earlier this year. The designation gives authenticity to a region for growing grapes and producing wines unique to the geographic area. The winemakers are capitalizing by moving their young event from near Louisville to Bloomington.

“The Uplands area is very large geographically so we are moving the event to different venues around the trail to be accessible to a larger and more diverse audience,” said Kim Doty, Uplands president and owner of French Lick Winery. “This is our signature event. We want to show people what we can do. We’re making world-class wines.”

The evening features 10 wineries: Best Vineyards,  Brown County, Butler, Carousel, French Lick, Huber, Owen Valley, Oliver, Turtle Run and Winzerwald. A few of the food vendors include: Fair Oaks Farm, Piccoli Dolci, Peacetree Mountain truffles, Yours Truly Foods , Maple Leaf Farms, Smoking Goose, Inga’s Popcorn and Steckler Grassfed (beef).

Judy Schad, Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheeses, will be one of the featured speakers. Jim Butler, Butler Winery, will talk about the significance of the AVA designation. A silent auction will be held to benefit the Local Growers Guild, and three chefs will compete in a wine/food pairing competition judged by all visitors.

Bill Oliver, Oliver Winery, is opening his Creekbend Vineyard to visitors as part of the Uncork event. Winemakers from many of the 10 wineries will be in the vineyard Saturday afternoon to talk about grapes grown in Indiana and their winemaking.

Tickets for the evening event are $55, which includes tasting at all of the winery and food tables. The combined evening program and Creekbend Tour is $75. Tickets are available at the Convention Center box office and any of the 10 wineries.

For the winemakers, 2013 has been a very good year. The American Viticulture Area designation provides legitimacy to wine enthusiasts.

“It’s all about validity,” said Jim Pfeiffer, winemaker and owner of Turtle Run Winery, Corydon. “When you have big events people take notice. I’m a big subscriber to Robert Mondavi’s mantra of promote yourself, promote your industry and get others to grow with you.

“It’s sort of like we’re trying to do things Napa Valley does. We want to be noticed.”

The wine trail has benefited from the publicity. Already this year, the Uplands added a 10th winery after the AVA announcement, Owen Valley Winery in Spencer.

“Indiana Uplands was Indiana’s first wine trail,” Doty said. “We are celebrating our 10th anniversary. With the new AVA designation, we are seeing more wineries take root in the Uplands and the expansion of established vineyards.”

Pfeiffer said the wine trail brings more credibility to each winery’s effort. “Would anyone know of Napa Valley if there were 1-2-3 wineries? You have to partner up with people who are like minded. It creates validity and excitement.”

More information on Uncork the Uplands is available at: www.uncorktheuplands.com.

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes about wine for 22 Midwestern newspapers. You can reach him at: hewitthoward@gmail.com.