Art of the Vine

Vevay, Ind.’s Demarees have created quite a legacy in winemaking

The couple earned several awards at recent
wine competition

VEVAY, Ind. (October 2015) – The Ridge Winery in Vevay, Ind., was a big winner in the recent Indy International Wine Competition. The winery entered three of their best selling wines and came home with three metals. The competition featured more than 2,000 wine entries from 40 states and 11 different countries.
The Ridge Winery is owned by Tom and Jane Demaree, who make the wine on the same Switzerland County farm on which they have lived for 50 years.

Photo provided

Jane and Tom Demaree pose at their Vevay home.

“In the competition, we entered three of our best sellers and won three medals, a Gold, Silver and Bronze,” said Jane. “In 1989, Tom got the idea to start the winery, but it took us five years to get all the permits and approvals. Now we sell 5,000 to 6,000 bottles of wine each year.”
The gold medal winner was their Swiss Wine Festival Shiraz.
“It uses Washington State grown grapes, and has a really bold flavor,” said Jane. “You have to be a dry wine drinker to appreciate it.”
Their silver medal came from their best seller, Blackjack. The couple sells 15,000 bottles each year of a blend of blackberry and apple wines.
“Tom makes both separately and then blends them accordingly so you can taste the apple and the blackberry,” she said. “They complement each other. We ran out at Christmas time a few years ago.”
Their bronze medal came from a German style wine called Rural Cool Riesling.
The Ridge Winery permit allows them to make wine only at the farm, but Demaree seems as proud of the work done at the tasting room as she is of the wines made by her husband. Greg and Tracy Pavy operate the tasting room with the help of other family friends.
“It is such a unique little place with the river and the deck,” she said. “Greg and my niece, Tracy, are a phenomenal part of our success. When you keep a place open seven days a week as they have done for 11 years, they deserve proper credit.”
The tasting room features a beautiful view of the Ohio River and a clear line of sight view to the Markland Dam. The Kentucky hillside serves as a backdrop for barges traveling up and down the river. There is also a popular gift shop focused on wine related items.
“We opened the winery in 1995 with just three wines – Blackberry, Concord and Blush,” said Jane. “Now we have 17 varieties.”
Tom’s latest adventure in wine-making is the use of select Kentucky bourbon barrels for aging. One of his first barrel aged wines was a Special Anniversary Wine in honor of the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary in August. That fruit wine sold out in 30 days.
The winery is incorporated with Jane as president. She does marketing, paperwork and all the behind-the-scenes work. Tom makes the wine and does the wholesaling. For first several years, they both held jobs outside the winery.
It was Tom’s outside job that gave him the idea to open a winery. He worked at the Schenley Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and had made wine at home for years. Small farm tobacco bases were beginning to dwindle, and the winery was a good income alternative.
“A winery permit can sell at three locations,” said Jane. “We only have the one location on State Highway 156 a few miles east of Vevay.”
The Ridge Winery is adding barrel-aged wines titled Dam View and Blackberry to their wine list. Other wines from the Ridge are available at some restaurants and wine shops, but the barrel aged wines are only available at the tasting room. The barrel aged blackberry is due out in October.
The Ridge Winery is one of six wineries in the southeastern section of the Indiana Wine Trail. The organization celebrates a special Fall Haul event during the first week in November that will offer food parings with their wines. The event is designed to showcase a variety of foods created using the wines. The Indiana Wine Trail promotions say to expect anything from wine sauces to wine tapas and wine cake. The wineries will also provide recipes for the food and special discounts.
“Fall Haul Weekend is a great weekend for the wineries,” said Jane. “We have a friend who makes a salsa with our blackjack wine, and I make a blackberry wine cobbler.”
There are new products on the horizon at the Ridge. They have now received their Federal Distilling and State Brandy permits and plan to begin production soon.
The 20-year anniversary of the Ridge Winery commemorates 200 years of American wine history by helping restore the trade to Switzerland County, Ind., home of America’s first successful commercial winery

Their tasting Room and Gift Shop are located at 11048 Hwy. 156, a few miles east of Vevay. For more information, call the Ridge Winery at (812) 427-3301 or visit: www.theridgewinery.com

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