Time for Indiana Wines

For the latest episode of the Indiana Home Cooks podcast, Time for Indiana Wines, I visited the Horticulture Congress put on by Purdue University recently in Indianapolis. I was specifically interested in the program for Indiana wine makers and grape growers. The Purdue Wine Grape Team organizes the sessions, offering technical instruction as well as marketing and management information for attendees. Listen to the episode HERE

In the episode, I talk with Kris Kane, wine maker and owner of 21 Brix Winery in Portland, New York. He was a guest speaker at the Hort Congress, sharing his story of building a successful winery within a multi-generational diversified farm, like many in Indiana. I also spoke with Indiana wine maker Shane Christ, of Satek Winery in Fremont, Indiana, and Katie Barnett of the Purdue Wine Grape Team. The team is rolling out a year-long marketing push for Traminette wine, made from Indiana’s signature grape. For more details on Traminette and upcoming wine events in the state, visit indianawines.org.

For nearly three decades, the Purdue Wine Grape Team has worked with wine makers and grape growers in the state to develop and grow the industry and improve production methods. In that time, the number of wineries in the state has increased from around ten to one hundred, producing over a million gallons (five million bottles) of wine each year. Acreage of wine grapes is small, but gradually increasing throughout the state. The industry is home-grown and self-supported, getting a boost from the Indiana Wine Grape Council, established by the Indiana General Assembly in 1989. The work of the Council and the Wine Grape Team is funded through a five cent per gallon tax on every gallon of wine sold in the state.

Indiana wineries are everywhere in the state. Check the Indiana Wines website to find wineries near you and seek them out. They are happy to share their knowledge and passion for wine, and offer tastings and special events to spread awareness, understanding, and the fun of Indiana wines.

The wines pictured at the top of this post are from these Indiana wineries (left to right): Huber Winery, Hartland Winery, Satek Winery, Oliver Winery, and Two EE’s Winery.

Your host with Kris Kane, Shane Christ (top), and Katie Barnett.

Indiana Artisans

Indiana Artisan is a non-profit organization whose mission is to identify and showcase the state’s highest quality art and food. The Indiana Artisan Marketplace was held recently at the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, and I spoke with several of the artisans for the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast. Listen here:

The Indiana Artisan program was established through a resolution the state General Assembly passed in 2010. Since then the organization has approved, through a juried process, about 200 artists and food makers across the state to carry the “Indiana Artisan” brand. Two retail shops in the state are now devoted to selling Indiana Artisan products–one at the French Lick Resort, and a new location in downtown Carmel. The full story of the Indiana Artisan program is at it’s website.

While the bulk of the participants in the Indiana Artisan program are artists, there are many food makers among the group. These are folks who have taken a family recipe and turned it into a commercial success, or others who are highly skilled and have a passion for candy making, bread baking, wine making, etc. As one of the entrepreneurs told me, Indiana Artisan is not an organization you can pay ten dollars to join. Artisans submit an application and samples of their work, and are adjudicated by expert panels as to their worthiness in meeting the standards of the program. This rigorous application and jury process takes place only once each year, and only about twenty percent of applicants make the grade.

Of those who have succeeded, I spoke with five at the Indiana Artisan Marketplace, held in early April at the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. That’s the subject of the latest Indiana Home Cooks podcast (press the orange play button above to hear it). Here is a rundown of who you will hear on the podcast, and links to their own websites:

David VanWye, Amazing Hazel’s Gourmet Chili Sauce.

Jay Noel, owner of Abbott’s Candies, based in Hagerstown.

Nick Murdick, creator and owner of Presto Kombucha fermented teas.

Connie Molenaar, of Connie’s Creations Long Leaf Pine Needle Baskets.

Dan Adams, owner and winemaker, Winzerwald Winery in Perry County.

All the above vendors are on Facebook and/or other social media. Look them up and let them know you heard about them on the Indiana Home Cooks podcast!

Butler Winery

Wine production in Indiana has been on the rise for the last few decades, but did you know it has its origins in the early 19th century? Settlers from Switzerland, in the territory that would become the state of Indiana, were the first to successfully grow grapes and make wine commercially in the United States. Wine was being made in many areas of the country, with varying degrees of success, but the Swiss settlers along the Ohio River in Indiana were the first to make a commercial success of it. On the latest episode of the Indiana Home Cooks podcast, Susie Butler, of Butler Winery told me all about it, and how from those proud hard-scrabble origins, wine making and grape growing finally made a comeback in the 1970’s, several decades after the end of prohibition. It has certainly been an uphill climb.

(Hear the Indiana Home Cooks podcast by clicking the orange button above.)

Those Swiss settlers started out in the southeast of Indiana, in what became Switzerland County, and the town of Vevay. More information on the wineries of that region is here.

To learn more about wine making in Indiana, including its history, check out the “Through The Grapevine” series put together by Purdue’s Wine Grape Team in the College of Agriculture. The Indiana Uplands Wine Trail website has all kinds of information on the wines and wineries, history, and events of this unique viticultural area.

Cheers!