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Enjoy Nature's Bounty At Indiana's Wineries

by By Iris Dean, a Journalist for USA Travel Magazine where you can Explore America's Backyard: http://www.usatravelmagazine.com.

Spring is a magical time of the year. The trees and flowers awake from their winter slumber and slowly lift their heads from under their earthly blanket. Drive along Indiana's highway and back roads and you'll catch the farmers plowing and tending the fields. In the vineyards across Indiana new life is starting to bud and before we know the winemakers will be ready to harvest the season's grapes.

Indiana's Winemaking History

It may be surprising to know that Indiana has a long winemaking history. Travel to Switzerland County in Southeast Indiana and you'll find yourself in the birthplace of the American wine industry. It was here that the first successful winery was established in America.

Dufour's winery, founded by Swiss immigrant Jean Jacques Dufour, known as John James, harvested their first grapes sometime around 1806 or 1807. In those days the town of Vevay, New Switzerland where the Dufour Winery was located was known as the Indiana Territory. Other wineries in the area were not as successful because they used imported European varieties of grapes. Dufour's success came from his research into the art of viticulture (wine growing agriculture) and the use of a native grape, the Vevay Alexander, which he nurtured.

In the early 19th-century, the wine industry in the Ohio River Valley grew by leaps and bounds, and became the largest wine-producing region in North America. By mid-century the art of winemaking became a victim to the Civil War when many of the wine growers and winemakers left their fields to fight in the War. Left unattended the vineyards were later devastated by mildew and degenerative crop disease, and then came Prohibition. Not until the emergence of many family-owned wineries in the 1960s did the Ohio River Valley reclaimed its reputation as a top wine-producing region. Today, with a total 16 million acres encompassing four states, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley is recognized as the largest designated wine area in the U.S.

The Lanthier Winery

As we travel along Indiana's Wine Trail we come upon the Lanthier Winery located at 123 Mill Street in Madison, Indiana. Lanthier Winery's history in Indiana dates back to the uncertain times of the Indian Territory in the mid 1700's when early trappers and settlers built the original 24 inch thick stone walls of the old 18th century building as a haven from the then wild west. Ask about the Lanthier Winery's intriguing history and you'll learn that the Cellar Tasting Room is believed to be an old fort or outpost created by the settlers. There are many tales to be told, yet it is the Lanthier Winery's award winning, hand-crafted wines which draw thousands of guests to their doors today.

Along with Lanthier Winery's selection of fine wines, they also hold exciting events throughout the year like the 3rd Annual Summer Artist Showcase held from June 1st-30th. Meander Lanthier Winery's "Loft Gallery" and enjoy the "Dimensions In Art" exhibition, a grand showcase of fine art & craft. Each year Lanthier Winery supports enhancement of the arts by sponsoring the premier exhibition of an "up and coming" young artist. Call 1-800-41-WINES or 812-273-2409 to request an invitation to the grand opening! Or view this exhibit at The Loft Gallery, located at 123 Mill Street 11am to 5pm Wed- Sun. Free Admission.

Great Friends and Great Wine

Our next stop along Indiana's Wine Trail is Wilson Wines in Modoc, Indiana, located 30 minutes from Richmond, Muncie and New Castle, where we meet the Wilson brothers, one a wine maker, and the other a visionary. John and Jim Wilson's Winery's humble beginning started in 1996 when with the help of their father, Richard (Dick) Wilson, they planted grape vines in their mother Ella's old garden patch. To their father's surprise what blossomed under the nurturing care of the Wilson Family became known as some of areas finest wines.

The family lost Richard in October 1999, yet his memory lives on today at Wilson Winery. The Wilson brothers named a sweet red wine in memory of their father. Today, Richard Red is one of their best selling and award winning sweet red wines. As children John and Jim remember their father playing a great game of croquet which is why they are creating a croquet court to be named The Richard Wilson Croquet Field. What makes Wilson Wines one of our favorite wineries? Perhaps, it is the welcome we received, which made us feel like we're joining old friends we have not seen in years. My husband says the Wilson brothers are "Good, down-to-earth people!" This is the heart of Wilson Wines, and what keeps guests returning year after year to sample from their award-winning wines and enjoy good times in a family-friendly environment. Among the annual events held at the Wilson Winery, rain or shine, are the BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat) Theme Nights, July 14 starting at 6:00pm, and concerts featuring Indiana artists like Jennie DeVoe and Duke Tumatoe and The Power Trio.

Wilson Wines is located on 10137 S. Indian Trail Road, the first road east of Modoc, Indiana on State Road 36. Turn south on Indian Trail Road and go 2.1 miles - the farm is the first place on the east side. (look for the big sign.) To leave Wilson Wines a message or hear information on upcoming events call (765) 853-5100 or visit http://www.wilsonwines.com. Join the Wilson family for the weekend and enjoy the festivities at Wilson Wines by camping out at Kamp Modoc. For details on Kamp Modoc call (765) 853-5290.

To find out more about Indiana's Wine Trails which include Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Indiana visit: http://www.indianawines.org/index.cfm.

About the Author

Iris Dean is a Journalist Writer for USA Travel Magazine. Discover places to dine, shop, and vacation destinations, check local weather, play Sudoku, read tidbits of News, book and travel product reviews, and order a Free State Vacation Guides at http://www.usatravelmagazine.com.

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