Indiana winemakers receive new distinction with state’s first AVA

Last Tuesday, Feb. 20, Indiana winemakers got what they’ve been waiting for these past nine years – federal recognition of the Indiana Uplands AVA, an American Viticultural Area. To those not familiar with winemaking, this is a big deal because it puts Indiana on par with places like Napa Valley, Calif. or Willamette Valley, Ore. As Jim Butler of Butler Winery tells Brownfield Ag, this is big for Indiana’s wine industry. (To hear more on the topic from Butler, click on his audio link in Brownfield Ag’s article.)

The establishment of the Indiana Uplands AVA lets people know that there is a distinct region in southern Indiana that is geographically similar and can produce great grapes and wine. It will also help boost the state’s agritourism, as some wine lovers like to visit wineries involved in AVA’s and see where the wine is actually made. I think it’s great news for not only the state’s wine industry, but also the agricultural industry. It shows that Indiana has more to offer than corn or soybeans and promotes local businesses.

Jeanette Merritt, marketing director for the Purdue Wine Grape Team, visited my FS470: Wine Appreciation last Monday night and was excited about the news. She wouldn’t tell the class the details, just sparked our interest by telling us to follow her on social media to hear about something happening at the statehouse the next day. And here’s what the Indiana Wines Twitter feed looked like on Feb. 12:

@IndianaWines

@IndianaWines

The new AVA includes parts of 19 counties and nine wineries. I think more AVA’s will be established around the state and region as more wineries team up together and discuss what makes their wines similar and unique. Purdue Extension wine specialist and professor Christian Butzke said a few weeks ago that the Indiana wine industry is growing and this news further supports that statement. To me, this measure is another form of branding, as those nine wineries are now allowed under federal law to include the words, “Indiana Uplands,” on their wine bottles if a certain percentage of the grapes were grown in that region.

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