“Can Indiana wines come to the world stage? I have to say yes.”
For the winemakers of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail (IUWT), those words are a ringing endorsement from Andrea Robinson—one of the most honored women in wine and the first woman ever named as “Best Sommelier in America” by the Sommelier Society of America.
Robinson was the keynote speaker at the IUWT’s first annual Uncork the Uplands event in July, a two-day celebration hosted by Huber Orchard, Winery and Vineyards and supported by a grant from the Indiana Department of Agriculture. The event was a product of a dynamic planning effort shared among all nine IUWT members. According to Dana Huber, Marketing and Public Relations Director at Huber Winery in Borden, Indiana, north of Louisville, the event was “a tremendous success.” “Our goal was to highlight the outstanding wines being made along the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail while focusing on Indiana foods,”
Robinson was born and raised in Southern Indiana, and her ties to the area run deep. “I really have to thank the Huber family for being my first exposure ever to a family winery and farm,” she said. Today, she is one of only seventeen women in the world to be named a Master Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
The IUWT received $15,000 from the competitive Indiana Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop grant program to create and market the event and to secure Robinson as the keynote speaker. “As our wine trail is incorporated as a grape-growers agricultural cooperative,” Donna Adams, co-owner of Winzerwald Winery explained, “we were eligible to receive $15,000 to put together this event that not only promotes local wines from local vineyards but also Indiana foods and chef’s creations.”
On the first night of the event, 300 people experienced Culinary & Cocktails, a cooking demonstration by Robinson, star of many
Food Network appearances. The following night, Indiana legislators, plus Uncork Sponsors Olinger Distributing, Innovative Labeling Solutions, Ivy Tech, The Indiana Winery and Vineyard Association, and the Indiana Department of Agriculture joined winemakers and wine lovers for the Winemaker’s Dinner, a four-course adventure for 230 featuring IUWT wines. “What an awesome opportunity to hear directly from those who care for the grapes, harvest, and produce the wines,” Huber said.
In her closing comments, Robinson named this region as “the next great thing” in the wine world. “You’re collaborating together as an industry and that’s really critical. Indiana reminds me of the some of the great wine regions of Europe, multiple generation families and farmers doing multiple crops on the same land, putting together the notion of family and food and wine,” she said.
“You have fabulous acidity and lower alcohols, and if you talk to master sommeliers, that’s what they care about more than anything right now. You’re harvesting by flavors, rather than by science and by statistics, and I think that’s brilliant.”
Plans are coming together for the 2012 event and will be posted on www.IndianaUplands.com shortly.