Today, I met with the owners and staff members at Buck Creek Winery, just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana http://www.buckcreekwinery.com. I was very impressed with several of their wines, including their Seyval Blanc Estate Wine, a semi-dry white, medium bodied with complex floral aromas, grapefruit and melon flavors, perfect for summer. This wine won the Bronze metal at the Indiana State Fair, Indy International Competition (2006).
The winery offered free tastings and their store was filled with wine themed gifts, clothing and books. The owners and their single employee, Phil took me on a tour of the vineyard and the processing barns where they press, ferment and bottle the wine.
He answered all of my many questions about growing and harvesting grapes, different types of diseases the vines face and the limitations caused by the clay soils in the mid-west. He also shared information about the many Indiana-based educational resources, organizations and colleges where I could learn more about the winemaking industry. Purdue University has a wonderful site for wine education http://www.foodsci.purdue.edu/research/labs/enology/
Phil also directed me to a Texas amature winemaker’s website to obtain recipes, http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/
Most of the advice I receive from wineries, such as Buck Creek, is that having a vineyard is not nearly as luxurious as it sounds. Essentially you become a farmer and it is a lot of hard, dirty work. I grew up on my grandpa’s farm, and have seen first that farming is extremely laborious, messy and takes a huge support team to maintain and harvest the crops. Just as Phil was giving me the down and dirty on vineyard maintenance, Jeff, the owner came in to offer some final work instructions before leaving on a family Vacation. He told Phil, ” work hard, don’t take any breaks and work your brains out.”
Instead of farming, Phil recommended that I simplify the process by purchasing grapes from any number of local growers and making my own wine. My ultimate goal, is to plant 5 acres of vines on our 200 acre farm in Oxford, soil permitting, and involving my family in the farming aspect. I will focus on the winemaking and sell it on the property, storing it in my grandma’s cellar, a perfect 55 degree cave. I will cater to the Miami University students, parents, and locals, giving them a taste of Napa & Sonoma right here in the Ohio Valley. This is my dream in a nutshell and the reason I am taking the initial steps to learn everything I can about growing grapes and making wine from places like Buck Creek Winery.