By Elizabeth Granger
SHERIDAN, Ind. – John Miller calls it a hobby that’s grown – so this “recovering” electrical engineer with a scientific mind and a whopping share of patience has created Blackhawk Winery. A native Californian, he grew his winemaking interests while living in Oregon and has taken them professional in Sheridan.
His mantra – to play, practice, learn – has him defining his own path with personal wine preferences leaning more toward dry than sweet wines. His wife, Deb, whom he calls the wine taster, has a similar palate.
It’s a permanent mantra. “As soon as we stop learning, we’ll stop growing,” John says. Their way of thinking? “Wine is simply meant to be enjoyed. Period. There shouldn’t be anything stuffy about wine or wine drinking.”
So they market the experience as family-friendly. Yes, the kids are welcome, with kid-friendly options not only inside the winery but also outside, courtesy of veterinarian Deb. Who wouldn’t be drawn to the farmyard and its friendly animals – chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, horses?
“We’re definitely a family winery,” Deb says. Extremely popular are sundaes for the kids and wine floats for the adults. Recently a local television program aired from the winery while the wine floats were being made. It resulted in a lot of phone calls and then traffic to Blackhawk.
Nancy Lindenmayer makes the wine floats. In one version she swirls chocolate in a glass, then adds mountain blackberry yogurt, Night Hawk dessert wine, club soda, whipped cream and more chocolate. There’s also a non-alcoholic version for the kids. Live music is on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
“Some wineries are glorified bars,” John says. “Our wines are not particularly high in alcohol. We’re out in the country with chickens running around. We encourage people to bring the family.” The Millers donate a portion of every bottle of their Sheridan wine to Sheridan High School’s music program. “Both of our kids benefitted from being in band,” Deb says. “We know the arts are the first that could get cut, so supporting them makes a lot of sense to us.”
She invites visitors to “come here for a grape-to-glass experience. We have the whole operation here, from growing the grapes to making the wine to pouring it into your glass.”
28153 W. Ditch Road Sheridan, Ind.