By Elizabeth Granger
Combine a couple technology geeks, a dairy lab technician, and a desire to have some fun. Then add a platypus. The result? Schnabeltier Winery.
A decade ago, Hoosiers Rex and Kris Robison and their good friend Matt Sutton started importing environmental technology from Europe, mainly Germany, on a regular basis. It meant traveling to Germany regularly. One of the Robison daughters loved stuffed animals, primarily the platypus, and asked her parents to get one for her. In Germany? They found success in Hamburg, and “schnabeltier (meaning ‘platypus’) was the first German word Rex and I learned,” Sutton says. And when they put the idea of the “weird and unique” animal together with their idea for a local business that could be fun, like the cheese and wine tastings they’d been enjoying in Germany, Schnabeltier Winery and Cheese Factory was born.
They tapped dairy lab technician Glenn Goss to make artisan cheese, and then to make wine. And although the dairy as well as some of the fruit is local, their equipment and cultures are all from Europe. The cheese case holds a variety of flavors, from Cheddar to Swiss, from Gouda to Gruyere, … Fresh cheese curds, too. Gouda has become the signature cheese, with several versions that include honey garlic, chipotle, and firecracker.
The wines are sweet to semisweet, dry to semi-dry, and limited editions. Patrons unfamiliar with either the cheeses or the wines, and may feel uncomfortable about creating pairings, can look at the labels – on both commodities – to find Schnabeltier suggestions. They’re even color-coded. The Schnabeltier philosophy is to create both wines and cheeses unlike those available nearby.
Awards, not only national but also international, are already theirs. The winery combines wine and cheese with occasional classes for painting and candle-making, fashion shows, and small concerts. The winery will celebrate its second anniversary at Halloween. Last year’s anniversary party has patrons ready for this year’s.
491 Apache Dr. Rochester, IN