Winemaking in Central Indiana
Growing grapes in the middle of corn and soybean country
may sound a little crazy. Bone-chilling winters, late spring frosts,
and wet summers are all unfavorable to grapevines - at least the
kind that come from Europe. But there are many species of grapes
that are native to this continent and therefore more tempered to
our climates. Grown in their native form or crossed with the vinifera
species, many grape varieties and hybrids exist today that are not
only hardy but very suited to winemaking. Scientists are starting
to think that cool and humid climates may even stimulate production
of the grape's micronutrients most beneficial to humans.
Of course grapes aren't the only thing from which
you can make wine! We often hear stories of how past generations
made wine from whatever their farm was blessed with each season
-- be it cherries, apples or persimmons. These country wines were
celebrations of abundance and a "good batch" was remembered
for years to come.
So France can do their thing and California too. Even
Southern Indiana has hills and water features that allow them to
come closer to the international wine model. We wish them all the
best. But here in Central Indiana we're focusing on what was created
for this area and exploring the unique opportunities we have here.
We believe there are many fun and exciting results awaiting our
harvests of grapes and local fruits. When you visit Country Moon
Winery we hope you are reminded of the unpretentious but precious
wine made by early American settlers for their own enjoyment. Come
help us celebrate the abundance!
From the back patio of the winery you will see the grapevine rows
opening toward the southwest, allowing predominant winds to provide
important air circulation.
Each of the following varieties have been chosen for their suitability
to Central Indiana. They represent not only a wide assortment of
varietal character but also a broad spectrum of heritage at the
species level. As a group they have similar needs in maintenance
and can grow in close proximity to one another, creating an attractive
and efficient vineyard.
This golden grape is a charmer with its pronounced
apricot flavor and snappy acidity. La Crescent vines make up our
largest block of vines with plantings in 2005 and 2006. It is a
very recently developed hybrid (1988) from the University of Minnesota
and features a heritage of native riparia and German Muscat.
Pictured above, Concords are a deep mystical blue
color when ripe, softened by a dusty coat of naturally occurring
yeasts. This native from the labrusca species was nurtured in the
1840s by Ephraim Wales Bull. From thousands of seed plantings, he
fine-tuned the taste of what we now know as Concord. This taste
has become the base of what Americans recognize as "grape"
flavor. Concord is named after the town in Massachusetts where Bull's
original home and vineyard stands today. Our initial planting in
2004 was Concord and these vigorous vines promise many years of
Slow starting but hard working is the projection for
this new variety. With its heavy body and neutral flavor, Prairie
Star will be an excellent addition to any fruit wine formula. In
some years, it can develop a floral character that begs to stand
on its own varietal virtues. Planted in 2008, this block of vines
utilizes vertical shoot positioning for managing its upright growing
From the aestivalis species this native is known
either as Cynthiana or Norton, perhaps depending on whether you
prefer its feminine or masculine qualities. Historically attributed
to Dr. Daniel Norton of Richmond Virginia, this cultivar has been
commercially available since 1830 but cited in journals as early
as 1770. Very naturally resistant to disease, this vine's boldness
is reflected in the grape's rich flavors and deep ruby color. The
next road east of the winery happens to be named Cyntheanne so we
hope our 2008 plantings sense some kinship in their new home.
This adherent-skin grape was named by Wisconsin viticulturist
Elmer Swenson, who claims his 1970 hybrid is as good as a California
table grape in taste and texture. This technically red grape can
vary in color from green to blue depending on temperatures during
ripening. Swenson Red with its vinifera heritage is versatile as
both a crunchy table grape and a balanced juice for winemaking.
These vines are planted close to the winery in 2008 to show off
their bright foliage.