"When the river calls, listen.

The newest Indiana wine trail loosely follows the flow of the Ohio River as it hugs the state border along the southeastern heel of Indiana. You can spend a day or a weekend or a week and enjoy some of Indiana’s best terroir as you walk, drive, shop and taste the wine and food of areas surrounding Madison, Ind.

Pick up your Down the Lazy River passport and get free dinners, wine and the chance to be “Winemaker for a Day” at one of the six Down the Lazy River Wine Trail wineries. www.Indianawinetrail.com or www.visitmadison.org.

VIP Passport

All three Indiana wine trails offer a VIP Passport. Pick one up at any of the wineries on your selected trail. Get your passport punched at each stop on the trail — not a hard thing to do — and when complete, exchange for exclusive wine-related gifts and a chance to win BIG prizes announced at Vintage Indiana 2007.

The Indiana Uplands Wine Trail

In 2003, eight wineries decided it was time to promote their experience as if it was Napa or Sonoma or any of the other wine grape growing states that offer consumers a path for their palate.

Led by Dana Huber of Huber Orchards & Winery, the group named its wine trail after the segment of the glacial period that left the soils of south-central Indiana ripe for growing fruit. The trail was an instant hit when it officially opened in 2004 and each year more and more wine lovers experience some of the state’s stand-out wineries as they work their way from Bloomington to the southwest toe of the state.

The Indiana Uplands Trail offers a passport with a different gift each year for those who trek the trail. Complete and qualify to win a $700 temperature-controlled wine storage unit. www.indianauplands.com.

The Indy Wine Trail

Now there’s a reason to think of wine along with racing, football and basketball as a sport in Indianapolis. The Indy Wine Trail circles the Circle City and juts a few miles down I-74 before completing its seven-winery loop.

Experience a multitude of attitude on this trail as wineries range from those that bring in outside grapes but produce award-winning wines to wineries that make all fruit wines (yes, a grape is a fruit but we’re talking apple, cherry, blueberry … and chocolate, which is not a fruit but is a tasty wine) to one of the state’s oldest family-run wine businesses. Meredith Easley of Easley Family Wines is the mastermind behind this easy to find, longer to linger route. www.indywinetrail.com.

Vintage Indiana 2007

The only way to learn about wine is to taste it, and on Saturday, June 2 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Military Park you can be part of the uber tasting event of the outdoor summer season. Buy your ticket now at www.vintageindiana.com or Marsh Supermarkets and taste hundreds of award-winning Indiana wines from over a dozen of the state’s 35 wineries. Be one of the first 10,000 through the gate and get a free engraved wine glass. Live music all day from Jennie DeVoe, The Woomblies and Carbon Leaf.

Families will find the kid zone, where tots enjoy creative play and parents can enjoy shady spots nearby to enjoy a bottle of wine, food and music. All ages are encouraged to taste new and innovative cuisines at the Wine & Food Pavilion. And don’t miss the shopping area for unique wine related trinkets and usable art. Plus, a dozen of the area’s top restaurants will be on hand selling their best menu items to satisfy your hunger.

And then there is the Pickup tent. As you taste through the wineries and find a bottle or two or a case that you would like to take home, you simply give your info to the seller. At the end of your day at Vintage Indiana, pull your car up to the Pickup tent and volunteers will load it in. No carrying around any wine unless you want to drink it on site — and that you can do.

There’s more. Local hotels are offering overnight deals so visit www.vintageindiana.com to find a good price for the night after you’ve enjoyed a GRAPE day. """


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