Navigating the Wines at Vintage Indiana

It was my first Vintage Indiana, but it certainly won’t be my last as I got to experience more wineries than I could possibly taste at Indianapolis' Military Park.

The weather was certainly not cooperating for the 11th Vintage Indiana.  It actually started to downpour as I made the (scenic when there isn’t showers) short walk from the Hilton Downtown Indianapolis where I was staying.  The day continued to be an odd mix of pouring rain and sun-filled humidity, but that didn’t deter thousands from checking out the wine tents filled with more choices than anyone could make.

I’ve wanted to make a trip to French Lick Winery--which I hear is a quaint area full of accommodations-- before and now I’m even more sold after tasting a few of their offerings.  Though the Cayuga White was a bit too sweet for even my sweet tooth, the Norton was a tasty semi-sweet blend of black currant and cherry flavors.  Wildcat Creek Winery is fairly new, but they seem to have gotten it right with an excellent Riesling, strong in grapefruit tones.  I had not heard of Winzerwald Winery before, but I will definitely remember their Lieblich, a German wine with a tropical flair.  I could even taste banana in this one,

Huber Orchard & Winery is another large winery that I had wanted to taste and they have a big selection.  I found a Sparking White Starlight here that was just right in sweetness and perfectly light for summer.  Madison Vineyards and B&B offered a very flavorful Black Dog Table Wine.  Satek wine wins my prize for most unique – Mango Mia, made from 100% Florida mangos, which went down easy on this hot and humid day.  And I was impressed with the statement of Easley, a winery in downtown Indiana that 90% of the grapes they use come from within 200 miles of their location.  Their gold medal winning Traminette was excellent.

 At Vintage Indiana I also discovered Grape Inspirations.  Not only does this Carmel, Indiana, winery have some unusual stuff (orange wine?), but they actually have a set up that lets you make your own wine.  The fact is, Vintage Indiana was a learning experience to me on just how much the variety there is available in the state. There were just too many wines to taste and too many to go into detail on.  I plan to cover more in future stories.

This is was the first wine festival I had been to that had food that was all for purchase as most were filled with tables sampling their dishes, however, the price tag on Vintage Indiana (only $22 in advance) made it worth paying for the reasonably priced food.    I enjoyed a delicious barbecue beef brisket sandwich from the American Culinary Federation for only $5 and finished my day with Italian Ices (one of the few things I’ve missed from New York) from Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice.   The pina colada was tasty, but I really craved chocolate – the staple of Italian Ice in NY.  Some of the wineries also sold cheese plates and there was more barbecue, as well as pizza and turkey.

One place that was giving lots of free samples was Heavenly Dips.  I have to confess to spending quite a bit of time there going through the samples.  I didn’t think the oil dips were anything special, but I would highly recommend the Sweet Pepper Tomato and Spinach Artichoke for appetizers and the Cheesecake and Cinnabon for dessert.  There were also some food demonstrations that included samples of cheese, fruit and Red Gold Tomato dishes.

My day finished in a great suite at the Hilton, where the first goal was to dry off.  I enjoyed their breakfast buffet in the morning before heading home and thinking about all the many more wineries I now want to visit.
With so much to see (or should I say drink?) I skipped some of the participating wineries that I had been to recently.  Check out my previous stories on these wineries: Oliver, Best, Turtle Run, Indian Creek and Scout Mountain.


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