Indiana’s stature as a major player in the wine industry was confirmed as the announcement of the designation of the state’s first all-inclusive American Viticultural Area (AVA). The much anticipated announcement came on February 12 at the Indiana Statehouse by members of the Uplands Wine Trail, Indiana Wine and Indiana Agricultural Industry.
The Indiana Uplands AVA encompasses 4800 square miles of South Central Indiana and has been pursued for several years by the nine wineries of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. Included in the Uplands Wine Trail are: Best Vineyards Winery in Elizabeth, Brown County Winery in Nashville, Butler Winery in Bloomington Carousel Winery in Bedford, French Lick Winery in French Lick, Huber Winery in Starlight, Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Turtle Run Winery in Corydon and Winzerwald in Bristow.
Designation as a Viticultural area is difficult to obtain but “Important to the legitimacy of a state’s wine industry” said French Lick Winery’s Kim Doty, president of Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. Approximately 200 AVA’s exist in the United States , including one in Ohio that takes a small portion of southeast Indiana. The AVA system identifies the origin of American wines in a manner similar to those used in France. A wine with an AVA label must have 85% of its grapes grown in that viticultural area. Designation is based on multiple things like topography, soil type, climate, and elevation.
The Indiana Uplands AVA runs a wide path from the Morgan-Monroe County line near Bloomington south to the Ohio River a distance of just over 100 miles. ”It is a very unique area defined by the remnants of an unglaciated plateau” Kim Doty noted. ”Its topography, soil, natural plant growth, climate and other geologic characteristics unify our wineries and the characteristics of the wines produced by the grapes grown in our vineyards.”
“Having an American Viticultural Area declared for the Indiana Uplands truly shows just how important our vineyards are to our agricultural industry in Indiana” said Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellsperman, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture.
Another plus is the ever expanding ‘go-local’ movement in Indiana. ”People like to know exactly where their food and beverages originate, and generally prefer to access these items form local producers” said Jeanette Merritt, marketing director of Indiana Wines and Purdue University’s Wine Grape Team.
One of the annual showcases for Indiana wine growers and producers is the Uncork the Uplands event celebrating Indiana wine and food and the bounty that exists in the state. Many Indiana wineries enjoy a long history of producing award-winning wines. At the prestigious Indy International Wine Competition Uplands and other Indiana wines regularly receive top honors from the judges including white wine of the year, Rose wine of the year and the Governors Cup.
Read about my experience serving as a judge at the 2012 Indy International Wine Compatition HERE
“Our locally produced wines are outstanding. 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 quality, economic development and agri-tourism”, Merritt stated.