News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Valley Life

April 27, 2014

GRAPE SENSE: Indiana festivals a great opportunity to explore wines

The only way to appreciate wine is to taste wine, different wines, and push yourself to try new things.

There’s no better way to taste more wines than the exploding popularity of wine festivals. There are many events in Indiana and surrounding states, many in Indianapolis, but two large ones which dominate the calendar. The town of Story hosted the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday. Then Indianapolis hosts Vintage Indiana on June 7.

The Indiana Wine Fair has grown to be wildly successful approaching its 12th year in quirky little Story. The town is best known for its old inn — “One inconvenient location since 1851” and a world-class restaurant.

The wine fair offers plenty of food options and entertainment. Story is approximately halfway between Columbus and Bloomington about 10 miles south of Indiana 46.

Vintage Indiana is the oldest of these mega-wine gatherings in its 14th year. Vintage is sponsored by the Indiana Wine and Grape Council. The noon to 6 p.m. event is staged in Indianapolis’ Military Park downtown. Admission is $25 in advance and $35 at the gate. The first 10,000 people receive a souvenir glass. A VIP program costs $50 in advance and gets you an hour of less-hectic tasting at 11 a.m.

Vintage includes entertainment, craft and food vendors, along with a Wine & Food pavilion featuring presentations from chefs and foodies.

Both wine festivals present a wide range of wines from many of Indiana’s 80-some wineries. You can easily taste more than 100 wines at either event. Though a little advice for big wine events: Learn to spit. Some people are uncomfortable sloshing wine around in their mouth then expelling it into a dump container at each winery’s booth. The trick is to learn to move the wine around from the front of your mouth (or palate) to the back. If you’re a little uncomfortable, remember this is a world-wide practice commonly seen in Europe and even Napa Valley tasting rooms. You can practice it at home.

There are other wine festivals. Vevay, along the Ohio river, hosts the Swiss Wine Festival on Aug. 21-24. Vevay claims to be the location of Indiana’s first winery. At this time they have 12 wineries committed to pouring for the event.

Then there are other festivals and art shows which may feature a winery or two.

But the two big ones come up early in the year. Each features a lot of wineries. It’s not unusual to find 20-35 wineries at either event. Parking in Indianapolis is where it can be found but plentiful on the city’s near west side.

Both festivals are great fun. Story’s Indiana Wine Fair is crowded into a small space. There are Hoosier winemakers who will whisper, off the record, the festival has grown beyond the space.

Vintage draws an even bigger crowd, but the venue is much more spacious. Both venues feature long lines and crowds. Obviously, people are consuming alcohol at these events. There are always a few who have bellied up to the tasting table a few times too many. The wineries are very careful with the one-ounce pour, but there is no policing how many pours anyone consumes.

With that word of advice, the wine fairs are a great way to explore Indiana’s improving wine industry.

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes for more than 20 Midwestern newspapers on value wine every other week. Read his wine blog at: www.howardhewitt.net.

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