When you think of American wineries, does your mind immediately go to California? Well, you should be thinking about Indiana!
Why Indiana? Vevay, in Southeast Indiana, was actually the birthplace of the American wine industry thanks to the efforts of John James Dufour. In 1796, this Swiss transplant to the United States began the nation’s first successful commercial winery — and the local industry has been thriving ever since.
While Hoosiers have a reputation for loving good beer, we’re also known to lift a glass or two of excellent wine in a cheer. If you’re looking for a genteel way to spend the afternoon or just appreciate the taste of fine wine, here are 10 of the best places to visit in the state:
1. Belgian Horse Winery
Small-batch wines, craft beers, pizza and live music: What’s not to love? Located in Middletown, the Belgian Horse Winery is owned by the multi-generational Harter family, and the name is a nod to their background in horse breeding. This is an adults-only location, known for both its high-quality fruit wines (blackberry, raspberry, apple and more) and the locally sourced musicians and bands that play there.
2. Brown County Winery
Nestled in the hills of Nashville, IN, Brown County Winery has been producing some of the area’s most innovative and high-quality wines since it opened in 1986. Whether you go for a simple wine tasting or want to enjoy your afternoon with a glass on their deck and some gourmet snacks, this is a wonderful place to visit on a date with your special someone. Grab a bottle or two of their seasonal Sangria this summer for enjoyment later.
3. Oliver Winery
In 1971, the Indiana Small Winery Act opened the floodgates to allow direct sales of wine to the public — and Oliver Winery opened its doors. It has been making and selling some of the area’s finest wines ever since. Located in Bloomington amid scenic gardens, this winery has long been a favorite destination for visitors from around the globe. They offer guided wine tastings, walking tours and more — especially fine wine.
4. Blackhawk Winery
John and Deb Miller describe their winery as a “hobby that has gotten out of control,” but we think the Blackhawk Winery is fantastic. There’s an elegant, indoor tasting bar, a massive production facility and five acres of farmland outside where free concerts are routine. You can certainly find all of the usual wine varieties you love, but don’t forget to check out their incredible dessert wines, including “Sassy Sister” and “Night Hawk,” before you leave.
5. French Lick Winery
Open since 1995, French Lick Winery makes it easy for guests to enjoy their day. Trained wine servers offer guided wine-tasting tours, while guests can watch the production area through large glass windows as they sip and savor. If you want to experience something really special, try one of their award-winning wines, like “Rhuby Razz” or “Crazy Cranberry.”
6. Huber’s Orchard and Winery
Indiana’s largest producer of wine grapes, Huber’s Orchard and Winery in Borden is a well-known favorite destination for families and couples alike. Adults can sample top-quality wines made from more than 18 varieties of grapes at the public tasting bar, while the kids can enjoy the adjacent petting farm and ice cream factory. You can also explore the farmers’ market and grab a bite to eat the Starlight Cafe while you’re there.
7. At The Barn Winery
Nestled in the heart of Logan Township in Lawrenceburg, At The Barn Winery is a labor of love by owners Don and Debby Stutz. They opened the doors to their winery in 2013 in a vintage barn and have specialized in small-batch wines that have broad appeal. Both dog and child friendly, this is a great winery to visit if you like variety and a relaxing atmosphere. Wine tastings are available on the weekends.
8. Two EE’s Winery
Leave the kids at home for this one, because the modern, sophisticated spot is 21-and-over only, but Two EE’s is a wonderfully romantic venue to take that special someone out for a drink. Grab a charcuterie board and some snacks while you sit back and sip pear wine, white sangria or something else that just screams, “Summer is here!” to your taste buds. If it’s a particularly hot day, you can even cool down with a wine slushie.
9. Peace Water Winery
With tasting rooms in Fishers, Carmel and Downtown Indy, Peace Water Winery makes it easy to enjoy their “Story Book” wines. Described as “approachable” vintages made for easy drinking and adventure, these wines give a real California experience (without California prices). If you want a one-of-a-kind tasting experience or just want a few bottles to take home, this is a perfect place to visit.
10. Easley Winery
Easley Winery is a second-generation, family-owned winery celebrating over 40 years of making over 20 award-winning craft wines people love. Located only 6 blocks from Monument Circle, and named one of Yahoo! Travel’s Top 10 Urban Wineries, you’ll love sitting in their outdoor wine garden — pack a picnic, purchase a bottle of wine, and enjoy the views of downtown Indy!
11. Urban Vines Winery & Brewery
If you’re looking for a family-friendly atmosphere while you sip on a glass of award-winning wine, Urban Vines Winery & Brewery in Westfield, Indiana is the place for you! Dedicated to small batch wine making and brewing, this winery offers charcuterie & food, live music on weekends and a fun place to relax and have a drink — they even have a playground for the children while adults enjoy their wines and beers.
12. Buck Creek Winery
Buck Creek is located in the southeastern edge of Indianapolis proper. Founded by Jeff Durm in 1991, the winery opened its doors to the public in 2006 and has since gone on to earn nearly 150 awards. Not bad, especially for a place that started out making wine in the basement! Come for the live music and acts in the summer and stay for the tasting menu.
While these 12 spots made the top of our list, there are plenty of other wineries in the area. Indiana always has more to explore — so grab your favorite person or people and go looking!