Northeast Indiana’s five wineries offer a wide selection

May 14th, 2018

By Samantha Whiting | KPC Media

Swirl it. Smell it. Taste it. You can even pair it if you want to. Northeast Indiana has five options for locally produced wine, all within an hour’s driving distance from each other — Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard in LaOtto, Byler Lane Winery in Auburn, Hartland Winery in Ashley, Briali Winery and Vineyards in Fremont and Satek Winery, also in Fremont.

Each of the wineries has their own vibe and focus.

A collective thought among the local wine makers and winery owners is to have fun with wine.

It’s not a a scary thing, according to Country Heritage General Manager Jessica Dennis.

“Just enjoy wine, just like you would music or food,” Satek Winery’s winemaker Shane Christ said.

The wineries offer tastings during most business hours. You can pick a selection of different wines to try before ordering a glass.

“We love first-time wine drinkers,” Hartland Winery’s owner Brenda Lockhart said. “You can like what you like and just because somebody says ‘You need to drink this particular type of wine,’ doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to like that type of wine.”

Dennis typically starts wine newbies out with sweeter wines. However, during the tasting, winery staff recommend to go a little outside of your comfort zone and explore different options. You might find something you didn’t know you would like.

“Typically everybody starts out drinking sweet wines and then as their palate develops they start leaning towards a little drier wine,” Lockhart explained.

Swirl and smell your wine before tasting it. Swirling the liquid allows oxygen to enter the wine, Dennis explained, which opens it up and allows more of an aroma to come out for both the smell and taste.

“Oxygen is wine’s natural enemy,” Dennis said.

When oxygen makes contact with the wine, it begins to break down. This is why it’s so important to make sure the bottles are airtight during the bottling process, Christ said.

You want to use your taste and smell senses to try to figure out what you like.

“We want you to understand what wines you like and why you like them,” Christ said. “Try to figure out what you are smelling and tasting.”

Make sure wine doesn’t smell like vinegar, Lockhart said. It should have a floral or fruity smell.

A good wine is “complex,” Lockhart said. It has different smells and flavors as you’re drinking it.

According to Byler Lane Winery and Vineyard’s wine server Holly Bauman, the tasting menu has a description that includes the aromas and flavors that the wine maker experienced while tasting the wine. It doesn’t mean those are actual ingredients in the wine, she said.

For example, a wine description might include black cherry and chocolate. Those two items weren’t used in the wine, and not every person will taste or smell those two things. It depends on the person.

“Everybody’s palate is different so you may not get the same aroma or flavor,” Bauman said. “You may not even taste black cherry.”

If you’re gifting wine and are unsure of the person’s wine preference, Bauman recommends to go with a semi-sweet wine.

“(Semi-sweets) are in the middle and most people, if they like drys or sweets, they usually like the semi-sweet,” she said.

The wineries have seasonal wines that rotate throughout the year, along with their signature wines that they carry throughout the year.

Briali Winery and Vineyards is a little different as they don’t carry a set list of wines.

“We can justifiably call ourselves an artisan winery,” owner Brian Moeller said.

One of the benefits of local wineries is being able to find what you like before buying a bottle.

“You know when you walk out of there that it’s a wine that you’re going to love,” Lockhart said. “In northeast Indiana we strive to make really, really good wine.”

The wineries have summer events lined up including bands, food trucks and art shows, which can be found on their Facebook pages or websites.

Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard

Year opened: 2011

Most popular wine: Heritage Red

Owners: Jeremy and Jennifer Lutter

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Address: 0185 CR 68, LaOtto

Satek Winery

Year opened: 2001

Most popular wine: 101 Lakes Red

Owners: Pam and Larry Satek

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Address: 6208 N. Van Guilder Rd., Fremont

Briali Winery and Vineyard

Year opened: 2001

Most popular wine: Dragon's Red

Owners: Brian Moeller

Hours: Friday and Sunday 12-6 p.m., Saturday 12-8 p.m.

Address: 102 West S.R. 120, Fremont

Hartland Winery

Year opened: 2013

Most popular wine: Grandma's Little Secret

Owners: Alan Lockhart

Hours: Monday through Friday 12-7 p.m., Saturday 12-8 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Address: 425 C.R. 23, Ashley

Byler Lane Winery

Year opened: 2016

Most popular wine: Delaware

Owners: JR Byler, Eldon and Rachel Byler, and Larry and Cara Lane

Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 12-7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12-8 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Address: 5858 County Road 35, Auburn