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Still green on the vine, Indian Creek Winery offers a mature taste

July 23, 2008
Gas prices got you down? Don't know of any way to beat the heat? Think affordable family fun is a thing of the past? Well, if you're in need of some welcome distractions, look no further than your own backyard. Residents of Crawford, Floyd and Harrison counties will be pleased

to learn that there are plenty of interesting places to visit within the tri-county area that don't require a lot of money for admission or traveling. In a new weekly column, the Clarion News will feature places that you can take your family for a good time on the cheap. This week we'll be featuring Indian Creek Winery.

So far this summer, "Easy on the Pocket" has featured several locations that offer plenty of family fun, but what about places where just the adults can get away and enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet? What about an inexpensive date spot for those couples strapped for cash?

Seen here is the bottling system used by Indian Creek Winery that fills six bottles at a time to a pre-set limit just below the lip. Each of the winery's eight varieties is bottled in this manner. The system is routinely cleaned as can be shown by the cleaning solution in the bottles. (Photos by Nick Simpson)
Well, you're in luck, because this week we're featuring a brand new spot for our more mature audiences.

Straddling the border of Floyd and Harrison counties, a quaint vineyard has sprung up in recent months and given residents of Georgetown a taste of the finer things in life.

Since opening in March, Indian Creek Winery has been offering free tasting of its eight signature wines. These include four dry wines and four sweet wines. The drys include Dornfelder, White Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc and La Crosse the Creek. The sweets feature Sweet Creek Rose, Lilly White, Cardinal Red and Blackberry.

"Dornfelder is a rising star," owner Mark Kendall said.

At $18.87 a bottle, it's the most expensive of the Kendalls' selection, but promises to be a "very easy drinking red wine" with "light body" and a "very deep color."

Although he may talk the talk, Kendall does not consider himself a wine connoisseur.

"I grew up drinking Boonesfarm in Paoli and Bedford," he said with a laugh.

Monetary value certainly doesn't matter to Kendall. That's why he doesn't charge more than 20 bucks a bottle.

This beautiful wine rack is just one of many decor pieces featured in the relaxing and elegant tasting room.
"The thing to remember about wines is that the one that's best is the one you like the best," said Kendall, mentioning it could be $200 a bottle or $2 a bottle, liking the taste is what matters.

"Wine is supposed to be fun," Kendall said.

Kendall is co-owner of the winery with his wife, Mary Jane. The winery's grapes only take up about four acres of their 33-acre property. Mark Kendall hopes to eventually increase that number to at least 10 acres, even though much of the juice for the wines comes from out-of-state places.

"I deal with local people if I can," said Kendall, who purchases all of his cheese, with the exception of one variety, from Cheddar Depot in Salem.

Kendall has tried to buy fruit locally, but it's hard to find enough to make his wine.

"A lot of people have concord grapes in their backyard," said Kendall, "but when you want to make 500 gallons, that's a lot of grapes."

Blackberries are even more difficult to obtain locally, Kendall said, explaining it's too labor-intensive and costly to grow enough for winemaking. Each gallon of blackberry wine requires eight pounds of blackberries. Each batch of the wine is around 550 gallons. That's over two tons of blackberries for just one batch of wine.

It is for these reasons that Kendall purchases the juices for his sweet wines from western New York.

Kendall has always wanted to be a wine maker ever since his grandfather made homemade wine years ago. Unfortunately, he never got into it until he became sick.

He became so sick that Kendall's stepfather thought he wouldn't make it. As a gesture of kindness and a wish to fulfill his dream, he brought Kendall a batch of wine for him to finish. After that, Mark got better and the winemaking got into his blood. To Mark, it became "one of those things that snowballed up" as he became more and more engaged in the process.

He made wine out of his home for a few years before he made the decision with his wife to build a winery on their property. The building is eye-catching, to say the least. The Romanesque arches surrounding the building have an Italian design and color that fit the landscape perfectly. The inner exterior walls have not been fully completed yet as the Kendalls originally wanted stucko on them.

After discovering this would cost a fortune, they decided to take the advice of the Ables brothers of B & B Ables Drywall Co. out of Ramsey. The Ables, hired to do the interior design of the building, suggested that the Kendalls use the drywall and polyurethane mix that resembles stucko that was used on the interior and use it on the exterior walls. This is the next step in the Kendalls ongoing improvement process for the winery.

Future plans include an air conditioning unit, which will most likely be installed in the next few weeks, and new road signs for S.R. 64 and the area around I-64 in Georgetown. These signs should also be up in the next few weeks.

Kendall has major construction projects on the horizon, as well. He plans on building another large room that guests can use for conferences and parties. He hopes to be able to eventually host fundraising dinners and art shows at the winery. He also wants to put in concrete patios around the grounds for couples and parties to sit and enjoy their wine in private. At least one will have a fountain and another will have a fire pit. These little additions with the inclusion of some landscaping will help to continue to bring Kendall's dream to life.

But it's not only the Kendalls who share a passion for winemaking, the land itself is made for it.

"Winemaking is something that's been a Southern Indiana tradition," Kendall said.

Kendall said it started with German immigrants who populated the Ohio River Valley and filled it grapes. The wine region of Southern Indiana is a part of what is known as the Ohio Valley Appalachia region. The mixture of humidity and weather flow creates a special climate for winemaking that is comparable to Southern Germany.

The winemaking process is one that is full of experimentation. The fermentation is the longest part of the process that requires constant attention to Ph levels, sugar levels and sulphur levels. All these factors determine the taste and color of the wine.

The length of time to ferment per batch is arbitrary, Kendall said, but it typically takes him about four to six weeks on his signature wines.

The length of time really depends on "what you're trying to do with it and what you want it to taste like."

Some people age their dry wines for years, but fruit wines (wines made from peaches, strawberries, etc.) should usually be consumed in the first six to 12 months of fermentation. After that, they begin to lose their flavor.

The Derby Wine Fest was the first wine event the Kendalls attended as official winery owners. They plan to attend a lot more events in the coming months.

On Aug. 9, Indian Creek Winery will be present at the wine garden for Tell City's 150 year celebration from noon to 6 p.m. On Aug. 16, they'll be heading to Evansville for the fifth annual Southern Indiana Winery, Brewery and Spirits Festival. To close out the month of August, the Kendalls will heading to Vevay for another wine festival on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th.

It's through these events that Kendall gets ideas and makes essential connections.

"When it comes to making wine, the wineries will help each other," said Kendall, noting his friendship with the owner of the other relatively-new local winery, Best Winery.

Currently, both Indian Creek and Best are applying to be a part of the Upland Wine Trail, a wine tasting tour that runs through Southern Indiana.

Illustration by Alisha Sonner
* * *

Cost: FREE (wine tasting)

Hours: Fridays 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturdays & Sundays noon to 8:00 p.m.

For more information: Call 951-0303 or

visit www.indiancreekwinery.org

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