Indiana Wine Overview

Indiana, long known as a highly productive agricultural state, also boasts a thriving wine industry. Like many neighboring states, Indiana grape growers have found a wide variety of French hybrid grapes that grow quite well in many parts of the state.

Indiana’s topography is fairly consistent throughout its northern and central areas, with prairies and farmland stretching for miles. Near the southern border of the state adjacent to the Ohio River, flatter terrain gives way to hills, valleys and dense forests toward the Kentucky border. Many of Indiana’s vineyards are located in the southeast part of the state, although grapes are successfully grown all across Indiana.

The state’s 60 wineries are pretty evenly spread through the northern central and southern areas. Typical Indiana wine styles include reds such as Chambourcin, Marechal Foch, Norton and Frontenac. White wines from Indiana are often Seyval, Vidal, Vignoles, Chardonel and La Crosse. The state has also been fairly aggressive about promoting Indiana wines — the Indiana Wine Grape Council has been set up as a cooperative effort among wineries where five cents from every gallon sold goes toward promoting Indiana’s wine and grape industry.

Further, Indiana is home to several wine-focused events that promote both local vintages as well as the entire wine industry. One annual event, Vintage Indiana, is a showcase for Indiana vintners, local cuisine and other Indiana made products. The prestigious Indy International Wine Competition draws wineries from all over the world and is the largest wine competition event in the United States.

To further promote its wine industry, Indiana has designated three wine trails which we spotlight.

Indiana Wine Trails

Formed in 2003, the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is the longest established in the state. Consisting of nine wineries, the trail itself is located in south central Indiana from just north of Bloomington stretching to the Ohio River.

The trail is actually split up into two parts — the central trail and the southern trail. The central segment contains some of Indiana’s oldest and best known wineries, such as Oliver Winery, French Lick Winery and Brown County Winery. The five wineries on the trail are all within a two-hour drive of Indianapolis and could probably be visited in one day. We recommend a more leisurely approach though, as there are some picturesque small Indiana towns along the way.

The southern segment of the trail contains four wineries in the far southern section of the state, just a short drive from Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is the perfect home base to not only explore this wine trail, but also several Kentucky wineries and the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

If you’re planning a visit to Indianapolis, you can explore the Indy Wine Trail, which spotlights seven wineries mostly south of the city. Easley Winery is located just a stone’s throw from downtown Indianapolis and is one of the city’s better known tourist attractions.

In July, the Indy Wine Trail hosts “BBQ Wine Trail,” during which each winery spotlights not only their own wine but delicious barbecue as well. Another popular event is the Chili Cook Off in October, with a free gift for those visiting all seven wineries.

The third Indiana wine trail is called, appropriately enough, the Indiana Wine Trail. This trail takes you to southeastern Indiana, about 90 minutes southeast of Indianapolis. It’s a very easy drive from Louisville or Cincinnati, Ohio.

This area is part of the Ohio River Valley AVA, which extends to Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. It’s also known as the birthplace of Indiana wine, since early Swiss settlers grew grapes and produced wine here in the early 1800s. It’s now home to six wineries which helped develop the Indiana Wine Trail, winding through the beautiful Ohio River Valley and into historic river towns. Be sure to check their website for updates on the many events held throughout the year!

Travelogue: Indiana Wine: The Indy Wine Trail

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