Autumn in Southern Indiana offers those gorgeous halcyon days; perfect for meandering along Indiana’s newest wine trail. Founded in 2012, the Hoosier Wine Trail touts nine wineries as it winds along 100 miles of the southern part of the state.
Mystique Winery and Vineyard
“Laissez les bons temps rouler” is Cajun French for “Let the good times roll,” and roll they do at this little winery tucked back in the Hoosier hills. Mystique projects that happy carnival vibe with Mardi Gras masks, strings of beads, and wine names that give a festive nod to the Big Easy. Why the Mardi Gras theme? According to tasting room assistant Nicole Ogg, “The owners (Steve and Patti Clutter) just love New Orleans and everything relating to Mardi Gras.”
The Doubloonwine is an estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc with hints of peaches and melon ending with a crisp, light finish that’s right on the money. Witch Doctor weaves a spell of sweet blackberry wine touched with the magic of Merlot.
13000 Gore Road, Lynnville, IN, 812-922-5612
mystiquewine.com, Wed.–Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Monkey Hollow Winery
Our wine tasting guide, Mary Elder, was delighted to share the story behind this intriguing name. “Back in the 1800s plat books, this region looked like a monkey hanging from a tree. The locals called it ‘Monkey Hollow’ and the name just stuck,” says Elder.
Eight of these wines scored medals at the INDY International Wine Competition this summer and it’s obvious why. Each wine was well balanced with careful attention paid to enhancing each grape’s flavor profile. The Cabernet Franc (silver medal winner) was my favorite; a dry red with hints of berries and spice, and an aroma that enticed. Their signature Pasture Red (silver medal winner) and Pasture White wines were sweet and satisfying. And the six fruit wines (four award winners) were comprised of the delightfully honest aromas, and the flavors of fresh-picked fruits. Monkey Hollow is definitely worth a swing by.
11534 E. County Road 1740 N., Saint Meinrad, IN, 812-357-2272
monkeyhollowwinery.com, Tues.-Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Blue Heron Vineyards and Winery
Located high atop a hill, Blue Heron provides a stunning view of the Ohio River and Cannelton Locks and Dam. Owner and winemaker, Gary Dauby, greeted us and conduced our tasting. Ten wines were available and all were amazing. Blue Heron’s wine list details the grapes and oaks used in making the wines, but no flavor descriptions were given. Why? “The flavors are up to you to discover,” says Dauby.
Each wine offered the opportunity to explore the depth and character of the local grapes and their terrior. I loved them all but my favorite was the Twin Towers Red (silver cap) made from local Chambourcin grapes, aged in Hungarian oak, and crafted to impart a spicy character to the wine. Sweet wine lovers, try the On Deck series of wines.
530 Blue Heron Lane, Cannelton, IN, 812-547-7518
blueheronvines.com, Sat. and Sun. 11 a.m.-5
Pepper’s Ridge Winery
Here’s another winery with a captivating moniker. According to Lori Page, our tasting guide, the winery was named after owner Kevin DeWesse’s Uncle Pepper, an avid outdoorsman depicted on the winery’s logo with his favorite bird dog. Check out “Lock and Load,” a tart persimmon wine. “30.06” is a dry Shiraz with hints of spice and soft tannins and “Bird Dog Blues” blends various fruits into a semi-sweet wine.
Don’t miss the trail’s signature wine called “Hoosier Red.” Each winery has created its own version from locally grown Chambourcin grapes.
There are five more wineries along the trail: Scout Mountain Winery, Grateful Goat Vineyard and Winery, Indian Creek Winery, River City Winery, and Chateau de Pique Tasting Room, but those are for another day. Be sure to grab a Hoosier Wine Trail passport at your first stop and get it stamped at each winery for a complimentary gift at the end of the trail.
4304 N. County Road 200 W., Rockport, IN, 812-649-WINE
peppersridge.com, Wed.–Sun. Noon-6 p.m.
For more information about Hoosier Wine Trail, visit hoosierwinetrail.com.