Posted on September 5, 2012 by Indiana's Cool North
No need to head to Tuscany or even Napa to sample quality local wines. You can clink glasses at a number of Indiana wineries and even taste a varietal native to the Hoosier state—the Traminette! The Traminette is a hybrid grape that makes a fruity white wine. “It has a distinct, very earthy taste,” says Carnell Mitchell, winemaker at Anderson’s Vineyard and Winery in Valparaiso. Anderson’s was the first estate winery north of Indianapolis; it produced its first bottle in 1994.
“The Traminette is Indiana’s native grape, and it takes to cold weather pretty well,” Carnell says. “It sets us apart. You can’t get a Traminette just anywhere,” he boasts. Traminette wine pairs well with turkey, pork, seafood and Asian cuisine, according to a website (tryontraminette.org) recently launched by the Indiana Wine Grape Council and Purdue University. Traminette is best served cold, and I find it tasty and sweet—sort of like a Riesling.
Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard in Bristol is also seeing success with Traminette. Owners David and Michele Muir have harvested apples, peaches and cherries for years as owners of the Judson Fruit Farm, which has been in David’s family since 1852. This year, they’re looking forward to their first grape harvest. “We planted five varieties, including the Traminette, which grows well in our area. The Riesling and Cabernet Franc grapes are more of an experiment,” Michele says crossing her fingers.
Both Anderson’s and Fruit Hills offer an assortment of wines for sampling, most made from regional fruit and grapes. You can wander orchards and vineyards and learn about wines from the winemakers in a relaxed setting. Both have lovely, unpretentious tasting areas. “It’s about taking your time. Swirl. Sniff. Sip,” Michele says.
I’m in and plan to serve Traminette with my Thanksgiving turkey… if it lasts that long!
One last insider tip: You can purchase wines from Indiana wineries even on Sundays!
Freelance writer Kim Ranegar lives and works in Valparaiso and prefers wines that are red, white, sweet, dry or otherwise.