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Indiana wine and grape industry continues to expand

April 18th, 2017

KPC News

It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when Indiana is mentioned, but the Hoosier wine industry is among the fastest growing agriculture industries in the state.

Indiana wine sales have steadily increased by 15 percent each year to create an industry that produces more than 1 million gallons of wine, and contributes more than $72 million to the state’s economy, according to the Purdue Wine Grape Team, which helps support Indiana’s wineries and vineyards. The state currently has 92 wineries, up from 34 in 2017.

The team, which consists of the Purdue departments of Food Science, and Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, features Extension specialists in enology (winemaking), viticulture (grape growing), and marketing. These specialists assist commercial and amateur grape growers and winemakers in Indiana and around the world.

Every gallon of wine sold in Indiana provides 5 cents in excise tax to fund and support the members of the Purdue Wine Grape Team.

Today, one of the biggest roles for the Purdue Wine Grape Team is assisting wineries and vineyards and keeping up with the consistent growth.

“We are excited for the growth of our industry and continue to support new wineries and vineyards in an effort to keep up with the demand of our specialty agriculture product,” said Katie Barnett, wine grape marketing Extension specialist.

This summer, there will be a few new wineries opening across the state, adding to the current 92 that the team supports. The team helps new and start-up wineries and vineyards by providing educational resources and advice.

“We help new wineries and vineyards to be as successful as possible,” said Barnett, who recently provided wine industry updates to Indiana legislators during Indiana Ag Day activities in March.

As part of its mission, the Purdue Wine Grape Team plans various events throughout the year to interact with wine and grape producers in Indiana, as well as to raise awareness about the economic impact.

Each spring the team hosts a fruit pruning workshop and coordinates one-day interactive workshops at a local winery.

“We enjoy connecting with the winemakers, taking tours of their operations, walking the vineyards and sampling Indiana wine. It’s what makes our job rewarding,” says Barnett.

This summer, the Purdue Wine Grape Team will host the 26th annual INDY International Wine Competition on May 24-25 with more than 2,000 entries from 11 countries and 40 U.S. states. This competition is the largest scientifically organized and independent wine competition in the United States and is an excellent way for wine producers worldwide to showcase their skills.

The team also puts on Vintage Indiana, a wine and food festival, which will be held for the 18th year on June 3 in downtown Indianapolis. This event gives Indiana wineries the opportunity to promote their wines directly to consumers in a fun and relaxed environment.

Indiana is actually the birthplace of the first successful grape and wine production in the United States. In 1802, Swiss immigrant John James Dufour planted successful cuttings of the Cape grape in the area that is now Vevay.

Prohibition severely damaged the Indiana wine industry, but today it is steadily climbing back to its glory days and is now among the top 20 wine-producing states.

The four largest vineyards in the state are Oliver Winery and Vineyards in Bloomington, Huber’s Winery and Vineyards in Starlight, Daniel’s Vineyard in McCordsville and Dulcius Vineyards in Columbia City. Oliver Winery in Bloomington is the oldest existing Indiana winery. Urban Vines, in Westfield, is opening this spring.

For a full state map of Indiana wineries, visit the Indiana Wines website at https://www.indianawines.org/wineries/state-map.

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