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Indiana Wine Trail

New program to promote
southern Indiana wineries

Officials to launch campaign during Tourism Week in May

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

Meet the
Southern Indiana Winemakers!

(April 2006) – Southeast Indiana is steeped in the history of winemaking. More than 200 years ago, Swiss immigrants settled in the area now known as Vevay, Ind., and started a successful grape growing industry. They established the first commercial winery in the United States, thus beginning the region’s long and successful history of winemaking.

April 2006 IN Cover

April 2006 Indiana
Edition Cover

Promoting the wine industry and the history of the wineries has been a challenge for tourism officials in the region, but now a new project is about to change that.
Down the Lazy River, a destination marketing group comprised of Southeast Indiana tourism leaders, has been working on the idea of a wine trail for Southeast Indiana communities for some time. The cooperative has put together a new tourism project that will team communities from Southeast Indiana with area wineries in a unique wine trail.
There will be five counties and six wineries participating in the project: Jefferson, Dearborn, Ripley, Switzerland and Ohio. The six wineries include Madison Vineyards, Lanthier Winery and Thomas Family Winery, all in Madison; Ertel Cellars Winery in Batesville, Ind.; Chateau Pomije in Guilford, Ind.; and Ridge Winery in Vevay. The project’s goal is to increase visitor awareness of the historical wine industry and increase overall tourism in the area, officials say.
To organize the program, the tourism offices in the participating counties were asked to help fund the project. About $28,000 was collected for media relations, brochure planning, printing and project coordination. Each winery has been asked to give some type of financial contribution, whether it is cash or promotional products, to help with the expenses.
Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that while the idea of a wine trail has been discussed for a long time, last fall the Down the Lazy River committee decided to get the trail organized. Lytle hopes the wine trail will be great for the area because it will attract more tourists.

Ridge Family Winery

Photo provided by Sally McWilliams

Greg and Traci Pavy (right) greet customers
at the Ridge Winery Tasting Room near
Vevay, Ind. They offer wine tasting and
sell wine produced at Tommy
Demaree’s Ridge Winery.

“We know that studies have shown that wineries are hot on travel lists,” she said.
Because the wine trail will take at least two days to complete, Lytle was hopeful that tourists will stay overnight in one of the communities. This would certainly benefit the many hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts in the area, she said. “Hopefully, tourists will stay at least one night, fall in love with the communities and come back.”
Others involved in the project are hoping the same thing. At a recent organizational meeting between tourism officials and winery owners, Sally McWilliams, project director and owner of the marketing firm Media Link, discussed how the wine trail could benefit tourism in general throughout the region. She said the focus of the wine trail would be different from other wine trails in the area. Instead of just a trail listing the various wineries in the region, the emphasis would be on the unique heritage and experience of each winery in their different settings, thereby showing off the charm and environment of the Southeast Indiana region.
Winery owners and tourism directors agree that while each winery is ripe with its own individual history, combined they create a mixture rich in heritage and appeal for the region. The wine trail will help connect the area together as it displays the distinctive features of each winery, yet shows the attractiveness of Southeast Indiana as a tourist destination, officials say.

Indiana Wine Trail
VIP Passport Program
Enjoy complimentary
wine tasting at each of the
Southeast Indiana Wineries
now through
May 31, 2007, and enter a
Grand Prize drawing.

• Grand Prize (one winner): “Be a Winemaker for a Day” Experience. Winner will spend a day at Ertel Cellars Winery participating in the winemaking process and enjoy overnight accommodations for two at Madison Vineyards Estate Winery Bed & Breakfast and dinner for two at Chateau Pomije Winery.
• Second Prize (one winner): “After Hours Cellar Tour” at the Thomas Family Winery. Winner and seven guests will enjoy a selection of wines, breads and cheeses. Included in the evening’s entertainment is a cellar tour, wine and food education, and a light-hearted atmosphere.
• Third Prize (one winner): “Dinner for Two” at The Courtyard Fine Dining and Spirits.
• Fourth Prize (four winners): “Gourmet Gift Basket” from Around the Corner Wine & Coffee Shop or Local Harvest Market.

Present your Passport, with all six official winery validations, to the last winery visited, OR mail to: Indiana Wine Trail, Down the Lazy River, c/o Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 601 W. First St., Madison, IN 47250.
Validation from all six wineries required. All entries must be received by May 31, 2007, to be eligible for Grand Prize drawing. Drawing will be held at the Vintage Indiana Wine and Food Festival in Indianapolis, June 2007. Need not be present to win. Save 10 percent on all case wine sales.

McWilliams is organizing a marketing package that will include a brochure, a passport program and special giveaways. The brochure will feature special details about each winery, along with other related tourism information for each county.
“The brochure will feature unique facets of each winery, with six different settings and experiences,” she said. The brochures will be displayed at various sites throughout the region when the trail is unveiled in May.
As an added incentive to visitors, a passport program is being designed for the wine trail. After visiting each winery on the trail, guests will be able to get their passport stamped and be enrolled in prize giveaways. The wineries are working out the details of those prizes, but they may include free passes for overnight stays at the wineries with bed and breakfasts and complimentary wine or dinners. A grand prize giveaway is also being planned.
Winery owners are excited about the new tourism package that will bring in visitors to their wineries. They all agree that the creation of a new wine trail will certainly be a bonus for their establishments.
Steve and Sandy Palmer, owners of Madison Vineyards, say they are delighted about a possible wine trail. Sandy believes that such a project would give a boost to the entire industry.
“A wine trail would heighten awareness of the wine industry in Southeast Indiana because most people do not even realize there is a wine industry here,” she said.

Indiana Wine Trail
Kick-Off Events
May 13-21

• Chateau Pomije Winery: Enjoy wine and imported cheese tasting, local artisan demonstrations and Mother’s Day crafting for kids.
• Ertel Cellars Winery: Tour the new state of the art winery facility with the winemaker (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.)
• Thomas Family Winery: “Sneak into” the Thomas Family Winery’s private wine cellar. Older wines that were put away to age and improve will be available for tasting and purchase. Try Indiana and Kentucky farmhouse cheeses. Sample small farm-based productions of world-quality cheddars, goudas, and goat and jack cheeses.
• Madison Vineyards Estate Winery: “Barrel Tasting” – Join the winemaker in the production area to taste the 2005 vintage wines directly from the barrel and compare them with older vintages in bottle (11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.) Enjoy free snacks all day.
• Ridge Winery Tasting Room: Winemaker Tom Demaree will be present from noon to 2 p.m. for a wine question-and-answer session. Wine Tasting Room open.
• Downtown Rising Sun: Italian Opera and wine tasting. Hear talented Conservatory students and enjoy a glass of Indiana wine and art.
Sunday, May 14
• Madison Vineyards Estate Winery: Olive Oil Tasting. Compare oils from around the world in “blind” tasting (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.). Bed & breakfast open house from noon - 3 p.m.
Friday, May 19
• Ertel Cellars Winery: Tours of the new winery facility with the winemaker, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Madison Vineyards Estate Winery: Free wine tasting (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
• Ridge Winery Tasting Room: Enjoy a Chicken Fry “by the Zimmers.” Winemaker Tom Demaree will be present from noon to 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 21
• Ertel Cellars Winery: Tours of the new winery facility with the winemaker, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Madison Vineyards Estate Winery: Olive Oil Tasting. Compare oils from around the world in “blind” tasting (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.). Bed & breakfast open house from noon - 3 p.m.

Palmer said her winery has a good location and wonderful atmosphere, and an outdoor viewing deck. And the wine trail would increase visitor traffic to her business. Because most people who come to tour the winery also buy its products, an increase in visitor traffic would likely also increase sales, she said.
Marci Lane, general manager of Chateau Pomije, also agrees that the wine trail would definitely benefit her winery. Lane says that unlike some of the other wineries, Chateau Pomije is in a remote area off the beaten path.
The winery and restaurant are surrounded by 100 acres of beautiful vineyards with a spectacular view of a lake. She said that once visitors get to the winery, they come back. However, getting them out to the winery has been tough at times simply because many people do not know about it. “The experience is worth the drive because the ambiance will keep them.”
At the Thomas Family Winery in Madison, owner Steve Thomas was encouraged by the new project. He agreed the wine trail would not only help raise recognition of the wine industry, but it would also help tourism in general in the area.
“We think the convention and visitor bureaus have done a marvelous job of putting this thing together. We are grateful for them,” Thomas said.
The new Indiana Wine Trail is set to launch on Saturday, May 13, at one of the wineries along the trail. Planners picked the week of May 13-21 because it is “National Tourism Week/Enjoy Indiana Week.”
While final plans have not yet been completed, the kickoff of the trail will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony and special promotional events all week long at the various wineries, Lytle said.
“This is going to be great for tourism in Madison,” she added.

Back to April 2006 Articles.

 

 

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