In 2003 farmer Ed Courtright and his son planted eight acres of grapes, intending to sell the crop to a winery. He couldn’t find one.
Meanwhile, Randy Rottler was searching for a winery where he could be the chief winemaker. He couldn’t find one.
Voila! In a match made in heaven’s vineyard, the two crossed paths. The result? Carpenter Creek Cellars.
For Rottler, it all began when, while in the U.S. Air Force, he went to Germany. “Don’t get me wrong; I found some great beers there. But I fell in love with the wines.” And he decided that some day he’d be a winemaker. So for more than four decades, wherever he travelled, he’d taste the wines. After careers in carpentry and homebuilding and auto sales, he got a job as an assistant winemaker in a new winery. “But I didn’t have the final word there,” he says. He wanted the final word as a chief winemaker. And that’s when he came upon Courtright and his grapes. “It was meant to be,” Courtright says of the partnership. “I don’t believe in coincidences, but it happened.”
He’d sold all but 10 acres of the farm, which is 4 miles from Exit 205 off I-65 in northern Indiana. The old horse barn, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019, is on those 10 acres. It’s been revamped and is now the tasting room of Carpenter Creek Cellars. It’s also on every bottle label. The plan is to have a port ready to bottle in 2019 to celebrate the anniversary. And who knows? Another winery just might give Rottler and Courtright a suggestion or two in making that port. That’s what the wine industry is like in this state. Rottler says it’s a lot like a fraternity. “We help one another, we share equipment, we solve problems with each other,” he says. “It’s not a cut-throat business.”
Carpenter Creek Cellars
11144 Jordan Road