Bloomington, Indiana

Photo: Oliver Winery

You survived Thanksgiving. The weather didn’t derail anyone’s travel plans. The turkey was somewhat moist. While your family got along for the most part. The long weekend was therefore a success. You’ve earned a glass of wine for all the stress. No, make that a bottle. You can even pick it up on your way home.

You’ve probably stopped in Bloomington hundreds, if not thousands, of times. The seventh-largest city in the state is known as the Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana. Cobblestone streets, limestone buildings, and Indiana University Bloomington’s beautiful campus surround historic Courthouse Square. The B-Line Trail—a former railroad line popular with bikers and runners—cuts through the center of town. Rolling hills and man-made reservoirs are just beyond the city limits. There are even a few vineyards out there.

Indiana certainly isn’t the first state that comes to mind when you think about wine. But Michigan, to the north, grows wine grapes. Surrounding Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky, to a lesser extent, also do. So it’s not surprising that Indiana does, as well. The Hoosier State even has two American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): the Ohio River Valley and the Indiana Uplands. Oliver Winery & Vineyards is in the latter.

Oliver Winery is the oldest winery in Indiana. What started as a hobby in the 1960s has turned into the largest winery in the state. Ash trees line the property’s 15 acres. Picnic tables, to which you can bring your own spread from the Farmers’ Market, sit at the edge of a small pond. While tours and tastings are held in the rustic timber building.

As for the grapes, the winery cultivates everything from Catawba to Chambourcin to rare Cabernet Doré. Their collections include cold-fermented Soft Wines, pre-blended Sangrias, fruit-forward Orchard Stands, and sparkling Bubblecrafts. You can see the vines for the Creekbend Collection—Cabernet Sauvignon and Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio—as you approach the vineyards. Plus the crème de la crème is the Flight Series, whose labels feature birds that are native to Indiana. The Shiraz Reserve from that series is beautifully balanced with ripe red fruit and toasted oak. That’s the bottle that deserves to be taken home. Actually, make it a case. Christmas is just around the corner.

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