Equines and wines

This post is a guest blog from my friend and classmate Rachel Florman, a senior in Ag Communication at Purdue University. An avid horsewoman, Florman regularly writes for her own blog. But for this post, she has looked at horse-themed wineries. 

Horses played an instrumental role in the history of agriculture, and the wine industry is no exception. Long before the use of tractors, horses worked the fields with farmers to care for and harvest the land. In the Midwest, several wineries have a rich history that involves one or many equine friends.

Whyte Horse Winery in Monticello, Ind. wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a horse. In 2002, the Pampels placed a bid on a piece of land for their family to enjoy. Even though an offer had already been made by another buyer, the Pampels chose to make a back-up offer. A few days later, the landowner called with an interesting request: she would only sell the land if the buyers agreed to also take ownership of a 25-year-old white horse, “Molly”. While the first bidders declined, the Pampels did not, and thus acquired their dream land and a new family member. When the family decided to build a winery, they felt it was only natural to name it after Molly, the reason their dream was possible.

Joe Semansky, Jr. was a professional horse trainer who made wine to enjoy while he traveled to different shows and client barns. During his time as a trainer, people encouraged him to take his wine to the next level, and Semansky entered a new career and industry. Thus, Red Horse Winery opened in 2009 in Barberton, Ohio.

The Blind Horse Restaurant and Winery in Kohler, Wisconsin is named for the founding family’s rich history of farming. For more than 100 years, the Dreps family farmed their land and, as was necessary in that time, utilized horses to work the land. The winery’s name comes from a picture found in the county’s historical archives, showing two of the Dreps boys sitting on “Birdy”, their blind work horse.

All across the country, horses and wine seem to go “vine in hoof”, with dozens of wineries and labels named after or featuring horses. While the owners of Flying Horse Wines in California all compete in endurance riding races with Arabian Horses, Pipestone Vinyards still uses a team of draft horses to work the land.

Horses have always been a part of wine history, and they’re still influencing the industry today. To read more of Rachel’s horse thoughts, check out her blog.