Indiana Uplands Wine Trail receives AVA designation

  • Nine wineries from Spencer to Corydon
  • Beautiful vineyards in southern Indiana
  • Designated American Viticultural Area
  • Top agritourism attraction
  • Live music

Wine is often the libation of choice for celebrations. What better beverage to celebrate Indiana’s new American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation with than an award-winning wine from a Hoosier winery. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail the state’s first such acclaim.

The Trail’s nine wineries include: Best Vineyards Winery, Elizabeth; Brown County Winery, Nashville; Butler Winery, Bloomington; French Lick Winery, West Baden Springs; Huber Winery, Starlight; Oliver Winery, Bloomington; Owen Valley Winery, Spencer; Turtle Run Winery, Corydon; and Winzerwald Winery, Bristow. The AVA runs in a swath from the Morgan-Monroe County line near Bloomington south to the Ohio River a distance of just over 100 miles. It’s greatest east/west distance is approximately 65 miles, from near Jasper in Dubois County to Knobstone Ridge near Starlight.

Implemented in 1978, the AVA system identifies the origin of American wines in a manner similar to a system used in France. A wine with an AVA designation on its label must have 85 percent of its grapes grown in that viticultural area. “An AVA is all about the idea of ‘terroir,’ a concept about which the French are so passionate in both their wines and food,” says Butler. “Here in the U.S. it relates to our increasing appreciation for ‘locally grown,’ a movement we are seeing around the country. AVA lets the consumer know the origin of the grapes that are in the wine they are drinking. Nearly everyone has heard of Napa or Sonoma. They conjure up images even if you’ve never been there. It’s a brand. We have given birth to the ‘Indiana Uplands’ brand.”

The recognition is serving as a tremendous boon to the state’s viticulture and tourism industries. “Attaining an AVA designation is another indicator of the wine industry’s importance to Indiana, and how the industry is regarded outside our state in terms of product quality, economic development and agritourism,” says Jeanette Merritt, Indiana Wines marketing director and a member of Purdue University’s Wine Grape Team. “The Indiana Uplands AVA is a very big deal, and we congratulate the nine wineries that worked long and hard to attain this goal.”


Kathleen Oliver, co-owner of Olivery Winery, agrees the state’s tourism doors are opening wider thanks to the recent award. “We hope that being able to tout this national designation will encourage more visitors to seek out opportunities to see and learn about our value-added agricultural pursuits. Vineyards are beautiful places and those within the Uplands AVA oftentimes rival those in California and New York. There are still many wine consumers who are unaware that Indiana grows and produces award winning wines. Perhaps this national nod will get Indiana more prominence on the viticultural map.”

Indiana wineries are often considered the state’s largest component of Indiana agritourism. Butler believes the AVA naming has the ability to increase the number of wineries – currently 70 – and the acreage of grapes planted – currently over 600 – in the Uplands AVA. “Both the quality and quantity of grapes will increase and their dollar value will increase as well. Indiana wineries have proven that we make some very, very excellent wines. The AVA demonstrates the wine world at large recognizes what we have achieved.”

“I think the Indiana Uplands area has huge untapped tourism potential,” he says. “We not only have wineries but history, hills, lakes, parks with unparalleled beauty, food, music, the arts, sports and even breweries. I can foresee that the Indiana Uplands will become the ‘Provence’ of the Midwest, a tourism destination featuring food, wine, culture and relaxation.”

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Story by Susan Hayhurst