Celebrating Indy's first (official) wine trail 

click to enlarge A conveniently labeled row of grapevines at Huber Winery.
  • A conveniently labeled row of grapevines at Huber Winery.

Indiana's best wine region is pairing up this weekend with some of the state's better-known artisan food producers for the third annual Uncork the Uplands. It's a chance to taste some of Indiana's best wines all in one spot.

"The Uplands area is very large geographically, so we are moving the event to different venues around the trail to be accessible to a larger and more diverse audience," said Kim Doty, Uplands president and owner of French Lick Winery. "This is our signature event. We want to show people what we can do. We're making world-class wines."

The Indiana Uplands trail (see sidebar for included wineries) was declared an American Viticulture Area in February. The designation, awarded by the U.S. Department of Treasury, lends a certain air of authenticity to the output of a given winery or wine region.

Judy Schad, Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheeses, is one of the event's featured speakers. Jim Butler, Butler Winery, will talk about the significance of the AVA designation. A silent auction will be held to benefit the Local Growers Guild, and three chefs will compete in a wine/food pairing competition judged by all visitors.

Bill Oliver, Oliver Winery, is opening his Creekbend Vineyard to visitors as part of the Uncork event. Winemakers from many of the 10 wineries will be in the vineyard Saturday afternoon to talk about grapes grown in Indiana and their winemaking.

For the winemakers, 2013 has been a very good year. The American Viticulture Area designation provides legitimacy to wine enthusiasts.

"It's all about validity," said Jim Pfeiffer, winemaker and owner of Turtle Run Winery, Corydon. "When you have big events people take notice. I'm a big subscriber to Robert Mondavi's mantra of promote yourself, promote your industry and get others to grow with you. It's sort of like we're trying to do things Napa Valley does. We want to be noticed."

The wine trail has benefited from the publicity. Already this year, the Uplands added a tenth winery after the AVA announcement, Owen Valley Winery, Spencer.

"Indiana Uplands was Indiana's first wine trail," Doty said. "We are celebrating our tenth anniversary. With the new AVA designation, we are seeing more wineries take root in the Uplands and the expansion of established vineyards."

Pfeiffer said the wine trail brings more credibility to each winery's effort. "Would anyone know of Napa Valley if there were one, two or three wineries? You have to partner up with people who are like minded. It creates validity and excitement."

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