Vintners of the Forest

story by KAREN WEIK

LOCATION: SOUTHERN INDIANA WINERY: WINZERWALD WINERY 26300 NORTH INDIAN LAKE ROAD BRISTOW, IN 47515 812-357-7000

WEBSITE: WINZERWALDWINERY.COM

WINES: ENJOY TASTING GERMAN-INSPIRED WINES AND DELIGHTFUL EATS AT ON-SITE WEIN KITCHEN RESTAURANT

In 2002, Dan Adams returned to his Hoosier roots, and along with his wife Donna, transformed their fifth-generation, 85-acre farm, nestled in the lush Hoosier National Forest, along Southern Indiana’s I-64 corridor, into one of the state’s premier wineries. To honor their German and Swiss heritage, and that of the area, they aptly named the winery— Winzerwald. German, for vintners of the forest.

In the early 1800s, according to Adams, the Ohio River Valley reminded German immigrants of their homeland’s Black Forest and Rhine River. Many chose to settle in the area, and it became known as “Little Rhineland.”

Among those early settlers was John Dufour, from Switzerland. He operated the first commercial winery in the US, just east of where Winzerwald Winery sits today. Dan Adams’ great-great-grandfather, Jakob Loesch, a winemaker and cooper (wine barrel craftsman) from Germany, was also one of those early settlers. In fact, Loesch brought grapes with him, from Germany, that viticulture experts today are unable to identify. The mysterious grapes produce a limited-edition blush wine, called Heirloom, completely unique to Winzerwald Winery.

The Adams focus their varietals on grapes grown in Germany, or German seasonal wines, such as Glühwein (red spiced wine), Lemberger (Blaufränkisch), and Gewürztraminer—which Dan slyly teases, “Is easily remembered by calling it girls-get-meaner!” They also specialize in holiday wines sold in Christmas-tree shaped bottles made in Germany.

Both Dan and Donna hold certificates in viticulture from Purdue University. Dan previously worked at Wollersheim Winery, Wisconsin’s largest winery; and they are founding members of Indiana’s prestigious Uplands Wine Trail. And not to be outdone by her husband, Donna ranks as a judge at the International Wine Competition—one of the top three wine competitions in the nation.

A new restaurant at the winery called Wein Kitchen, will open in late April. Featuring German fare like flatbreads and Bavarian pretzels, it is sure to delight visitors and those attending their summer concert series (check out the line-up on their website!).

For wine connoisseurs, or even those wanting a wistful escape to Germany, by way of Southern Indiana, Winzerwald Winery is a must!

For more information: www.winzerwaldwinery.com