Cozy up in 6 rustic northeast Indiana wineries
By Kara Hackett | Input Fort Wayne
The Indiana countryside often conjures images of farmland and cornfields, but you might not know that the Hoosier state has a history of winemaking, too.
Indiana was home to the first successful commercial winery in the U.S. back in 1802. Today, as millennial and Gen X consumers drive a renewed interest in wine nationwide, northeast Indiana is going back to its roots.
Across the region, wineries and winemaking techniques are dominating the social scene and earning the region national recognition.
Here are seven regional wineries to experience only a short drive from Fort Wayne:
6208 N Van Guilder Rd., Fremont, Indiana
Distance from downtown Fort Wayne: 52 minutes north
Nestled in the picturesque “Land of 101 Lakes,” Satek Winery is northeast Indiana’s first winemaker. It began when the Satek family bought 28 acres of land just north of Lake James in 1915 to be an apple orchard. Instead, they turned it into a vineyard a year later. In 2001, Pam and Larry Satek opened Satek Winery at a second vineyard in Fremont, which is home to a tasting room, a production facility, and an outdoor picnic area frequented by lake-goers. The family now produces about 30 varieties of wine, growing their own grapes and sourcing others from places as far away as New York and Pennsylvania.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. every day (except major holidays)
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Christmas Eve
Tours are available on the weekends by appointment.
Complimentary tastings any day (including Sunday)
6808 US-24, Huntington, IN 46750
Distance from downtown Fort Wayne: 32 minutes southwest
Host of the popular “Weekends Uncorked” outdoor wine and music events and champion of the wine slushy, Two-EEs Winery in Huntington is a busy summer hangout. Set on a hillside near the charming small town of Roanoke, the winery is home to "America's Best Tasting Room," according to a 2017 USA Today poll. Two-EEs was established in 2013 by Eric and Emily Harris on the belief that every variety of grape deserves a spotlight. As such, its winemakers search near and far for grapes that are unfamiliar to most wine drinkers and use minimalist production techniques to bring their rare flavors to life. Its philosophy is to “let the grapes speak for themselves.”
11 a.m.-7 p.m. every day (except certain holidays)
Extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights in the summer
Country Heritage Winery
185 Co Rd 68, Laotto, IN 46763
Distance from downtown Fort Wayne: 25 minutes north
After growing up on family farms in the LaOtto Community, Jeremy & Jennifer Lutter opened County Heritage Winery on their farmland in 2011. Today, the cozy, cabin-like space offers more than two dozen award-winning wines with a spacious wrap around porch and gazebo, surrounded by eight acres of vineyard. But that’s not all. Stop by for a complimentary tasting, and you’ll find that the winery also has handmade fudge and a full-service market open seven days a week, where they sell fresh and locally grown produce and meat. It’s all the product of more than 100 years of Indiana farming heritage.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Free tours on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.
Byler Lane Winery
5858 Co Rd 35, Auburn, IN 46706
Distance from downtown Fort Wayne: 33 minutes north
Built on the spirit of family and friendship, Byler Lane Winery in Auburn is the ideal fall setting to relax with loved ones. Inside the spacious tasting room designed with salvaged barn wood, you’ll find a cozy fireplace and a variety of wines that change month-to-month, ranging from dry to sweet. Outside, the winery and pet-friendly patio overlook a vineyard and pond. The winery is owned by Eldon and Rachel Byler, JR Byler, and Larry and Cara Lane who started making wine as a hobby together before opening the establishment in 2016.
Noon-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday
Noon-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Noon-5 p.m. Sunday
425 Co Rd 23, Ashley, IN 46705
Distance from downtown Fort Wayne: 40 minutes north
Voted Indiana’s 2018 Winery of the Year by the Indy International Wine Competition, Hartlandprides itself on creating small batch, handcrafted wines that are constantly changing. Alan and Brenda Lockhart started the intimate winery out of a hobby on a few acres of farmland that has been in their family for generations. Working with assistant winemaker, Howard Dalton, the team likes to experiment with different varietals, ideas, and processes to create innovative flavor combinations.
Noon-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
Noon-8 p.m. Saturday
Noon-5 p.m. Sunday
Tippy Creek Winery
5920 N 200 E, Leesburg, IN 46538
Distance from downtown Fort Wayne: 1 hour northwest
et in the Leesburg countryside among a spacious vineyard and forest is the cozy Tippy Creek Winery with indoor and outdoor fireplaces. It opened on the Richcreek family property in 2016, seven years after its owners Lori and Daniel Richcreek received a winemaking kit from their children for Christmas and developed a passion for the craft. Now, the winery serves as a popular local hangout for guests attending music or arts events or simply looking for a quiet place to relax with company. When you stop by, say “hi” to the winery dog, Zippy. For those who aren’t drinking, the menu even features a special non-alcoholic sparkling White Grape juice made from Niagara grapes with no sugar added.
2 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday
Noon-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday