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Spring into the Valley

Submitted by on March 14, 2013 – 8:51 amNo Comment

indiana_wine-trail Special to Road Trips for Foodies
By the Indiana Wine Trail

All six wineries on the Indiana Wine Trail will offer special tastings, food and fun during “Spring Into the Valley”, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 20 and 21, 2013.

On the trail along and around the Ohio River Scenic Byway are the Thomas Family Winery, Lanthier Winery, Madison Vineyards, Ertel Cellars, StreamCliff Farm Winery and The Ridge Winery.

Encompassing everything from secluded estate vineyards to historic pub-style bistros, the Indiana Wine Trail brings together the region’s best, each offering a different take on one of the state’s fastest-growing agricultural products: handcrafted Indiana wine.

Southeast Indiana (and particular Switzerland County) is known as the birthplace of the American wine industry because it was the site of the first successful winery established in America.The winery was founded by Swiss immigrant Jean Jacques Dufour (also known as John James) with the first grapes harvested sometime around 1806 or 1807.

The winery was located in the town of Vevay, New Switzerland, in what was then known as Indiana Territory. Although Dufour was the original driving force behind the winery, he was assisted by a number of additional Swiss settlers, many of them his family and friends. The winery was successful where so many others had failed because Dufour employed a native grape, the Vevay Alexander, as opposed to imported European varieties. Dufour was also proactive in learning what he could about the viticulture (wine growing agriculture) of the region, so that he could respond quickly to problems and grow the heartiest grapes possible.

Following the launch of Dufour’s winery in the early 19th-century, the wine industry in the Ohio River Valley grew by leaps and bounds, and at one time was the largest wine-producing region in North America. By mid-century, however, the burgeoning industry fell into decline as wine growers and winemakers left their fields to fight in the Civil War. Mildew and degenerative crop disease also ravaged the once-thriving trade. In the 20th century, the industry was dealt an additional blow by Prohibition. From there it began to slowly rebound, and, with the emergence of many family-owned wineries in the 1960s, reclaim its spot as a top wine-producing region.

Beginning with a resurgence of the wine industry in the 1960’s, the Ohio River Valley’s winemaking industry is now flourishing. In fact, with a total 16 million acres encompassing four states (West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky), the Ohio River Valley is recognized today as the largest designated wine area in the U.S.

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