I'll be posting lots more about the Indiana wine industry, but here's a start. There was much to learn about wines from my home state, and the wine industry that's building as fast as Obama shoots hoops (after all, basketball is the official religion in the Hoosier State...)
At Butler Winery, a few miles east of Oliver, I spent a pleasant hour visiting with winemaker Jim Butler and his wife Susie in their tasting room. Jim spent 5 years as the winemaker at Oliver before establishing his own vineyard in 1982. Along with oldest son John, he's the author of the book "Indiana Wines". I tasted their Chambourcin 2005, which won a silver medal at the 2007 Indy International Competition. This is a popular grape for Midwestern wines; it ripens in late September which provides some protection from the hot humid sun of Central Indiana summers and allows winemakers to harvest before too much predation from deer takes place. This lovely wine is barrel aged for six months in American oak barrels, and is light and refreshing. $15.95. Their Chambourcin 2006, Jim believes, has excellent aging potential and tasting notes indicate aroma of pear and spice with tones of dark cherry and raspberry. He suggests pairing with lamb, beef and game. $17.95.
The Butler wine which I took home to my brother's table in Indianapolis was their Indiana White, a superb value of a versatile table wine, comprised of Indiana Uplands Vignoles fruit (25%) and Cardonnel (75%). Tasting notes indicate flavor and aroma of peach and nectarine, but those are faint enough to not overwhelm a clean tasting table white. $11.95. The Butler Indiana Red is made from Indiana Uplands Chambourcin grapes from the 2007 harvest, which Jim describes as a "wonderful Chambourcin harvest." At 10.5% alcohol, this red has aroma and taste of cherry that is not overwhelming, and makes a very presentable table red. $11.95
If you don't wind through the back roads from Oliver to Butler Winery, don't fret. You can visit one of their satellite tasting rooms in Bloomington (where Indiana University is located) or Chesterton, Indiana. Butler Winery is a family enterprise through-and-through, so you'd meet more of the family at these tasting rooms too.
When I drove up north from Kentucky, the first winery I visited in my home state of Indiana was Oliver Winery, located in Bloomington, Indiana, just a few miles north of Indiana University's campus. This is the oldest and biggest winery in Indiana. Featuring a tasting room and shop with food-for-picnic items and wine-related merchandise, this tasting room can accommodate a large crowd. I enjoyed their Marechal Foch Nouveau 2008, which is an estate bottled wine from their own Creekbend Vineyard. On the nose, it has a strong berry, and upon tasting, a hint of cranberry. 10% alcohol. Tasting notes describe it as "fresh, fragrant and flavorful. Everything a nouveau should be. A delicious match with pork." $12/bottle www.oliverwinery.com