Uplands Wine Trail Obtains Long-Sought American Viticultural
Posted February 18, 2013
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UPLANDS WINE TRAIL OBTAINS LONG-SOUGHT
AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREA DESIGNATION
“Our locally produced wines are outstanding,” said Jeanette Merritt, Indiana Artisan board member and marketing director of Indiana Wines and Purdue University’s Wine Grape Team. “Attaining an AVA designation is another indicator of the wine industry’s importance to Indiana, and how the industry is regarded outside our state in terms of product quality, economic development and agri-tourism.
(Feb. 12, 2013) Wines from 26 Indiana wineries are part of the Indiana Artisan brand, and nine of those are part of Indiana’s first all-inclusive American Viticultural Area (AVA), further evidence of Indiana’s stature as a major player in the wine industry. Eight will be serving their wines, and selling by the bottle and case, at the Indiana Artisan Marketplace, April 6 and 7, at the Expo Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Best Vineyards Winery, Elizabeth; Brown County Winery, Nashville; Butler Winery, Bloomington; Carousel Winery, Bedford; French Lick Winery, West Baden Springs; Huber Winery, Starlight; Oliver Winery, Bloomington; Turtle Run Winery, Corydon, and Winzerwald Winery, Bristow, formed the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail 10 years ago with a goal to gain the federal government designation as the state’s first AVA. That goal was reached February 12.
Designation is difficult to obtain but “important to the legitimacy of a state’s wine industry,” said French Lick Winery’s Kim Doty, president of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. The Indiana Uplands AVA encompasses 4800-square miles of South Central Indiana grape-growing terrain, a swath from the Morgan-Monroe County line near Bloomington south to the Ohio River, a distance of just over 100 miles. Its greatest east/west distance is approximately 65 miles, from near Jasper in Dubois County to Knobstone Ridge near Starlight.
“It’s a very unique area defined by the remnants of an unglaciated plateau,” Doty noted. “Its topography, soil, natural plant growth, climate, and geologic characteristics unify our wineries and the characters of the wines produced by the grapes grown in our vineyards.”
Approximately 200 AVAs exist in the U.S., including an Ohio AVA that takes in a small portion of southeast Indiana. Implemented in 1978, the AVA system identifies the origin of American wines in a manner similar to a system used by France. A wine with an AVA designation on its label must have 85 percent of its grapes grown in that viticultural area. Designation is based on multiple characteristics of the region including topography, soil type, climate, elevation, and, in some instances, historical precedent. AVAs range in size from several hundred to several million acres. The designation is granted by the US Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Trade Bureau.
“Having an American Viticultural Area declared for the Indiana Uplands truly shows just how important our vineyards are to our agriculture industry in Indiana,” said Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture. “With over 600 acres of grapes planted in the state, and a significant portion of those planted in the Indiana Uplands AVA, I’m encouraged we will see even more vineyards and wineries take root in the future.”
Another plus is the ever-expanding “go local” movement, says Indiana Artisan Board Member Jeanette Merritt, marketing director of Indiana Wines and Purdue University’s Wine Grape Team. “People like to know exactly where their food and beverages originate, and generally prefer these items from local producers. The Indiana Uplands AVA designation ensures that the scores of wines crafted by the winemakers located within this region indeed are locally produced.”
“Obtaining the Uplands AVA designation has very positive long-term implications for our state’s wine industry,” said Jim Butler of Bloomington’s Butler Winery. “The designation clearly signifies to people interested in joining our industry that this is an area where unique opportunities exist for the grape-grower and winemaker.” Butler mentioned the annual Uncork the Uplands, a 10-year old event celebrating Indiana wine and food, as just one of the showcases for the talents of Uplands winemakers.
The Indiana Uplands wineries enjoy a long history of producing award-winning wines. At the prestigious Indy International Wine Competition, Uplands wines regularly earn top honors from the judges, including White Wine of the Year (French Lick Winery), Rose Wine of the Year (Butler Winery), and the Governor’s Cup (Oliver and Huber Wineries).
“Our locally produced wines are outstanding,” Merritt stated. “Attaining an AVA designation is another indicator of the wine industry’s importance to Indiana, and how the industry is regarded outside our state in terms of product quality, economic development and agri-tourism.
“The Indiana Uplands AVA is a very big deal, and we congratulate the nine wineries that have worked long and hard to attain this goal.”
The mission of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, is to promote a quality wine experience for consumers by providing options for educational and enjoyable outings. Indiana Wines works with the state’s 69 wineries to establish and nurture a successful wine grape industry. Indiana Wines is headquartered at Purdue University, and offers specialists in enology (winemaking), viticulture (grape-growing) and marketing.