Southern Indiana Winery Reviews
Chateau Pomije - There are several reasons why I highly recommend this winery and restaurant located in Guilford, Indiana...the first being the atmosphere. We drove to Chateau Pomije on a Friday evening. We thought since it had a restaurant, that it would be a good idea to take in the whole experience. The first thing I noticed was that the building is absolutely beautiful. Their website boasts a "French Countryside" atmosphere. I've visited the French countryside...and as we were approaching the entrance...I truly got the feeling I was on a European holiday again. Our reservation was for 7:30 p.m. and we arrived right on time. We were immediately seated at a table near the front of the building. The spectacular view of the vineyard made me smile immediately. It was twilight...and I found myself wishing that we had been able to arrive earlier in the evening so we could enjoy the scenery for awhile longer.
Reason #2: The food. Our server arrived at the table to see if we would like anything to drink. We had originally planned on arriving closer to 7:00 p.m. so that we could taste some wine before dinner. We brought two friends along on this trip (which is not usual for us to do) and they were running late...so we didn't make it in time for a tasting. Our friends each chose a glass of wine they thought they would enjoy and Gary and I split a bottle Steuben. We sipped on our wine while we browsed the dinner menu. Everything sounded so good, it was hard to decide what to order. Our meals were delicious. Our friends had sandwiches...and they said they really liked them. My steak was good and Gary loved his pork tenderloin. My favorite part of the meal was their homemade beer battered onion rings. We all ordered them (except for Gary...onions don't agree with him) and we all went on and on about how wonderful they tasted.
Reason #3: The wine. When we finished our meals, we walked over to the tasting counter to sample some wine. I wish we had time to sample before dinner, because Chateau Pomije makes a great Pinot Noir and I think I would have preferred it with my meal. They also offered several fruit wines that were incredible and bursting with flavor. They also told me that they had just bottled a Niagara, which I couldn't wait to try, but found it too sweet for me. (Could my taste in wine be shifting?)
Reason #4. The service. I would describe Chateau Pomije's atmosphere "upscale casual". Our server was exceptionally friendly. She was very busy, but still seemed to find time to give every table personal attention. She took the time to joke around with us...and also went out of her way to make sure we were enjoying our meal. The gentleman behind the tasting counter was knowledgeable and attentive. He was very nice to our group and made our tasting experience at Chateau Pomije a memorable one. He even gave me an extra splash of Pinot Noir when I said how much I enjoyed it....which, of course, scored some points with me. Favorites: Pinot Noir and Blueberry.
Ertel Cellars Winery - I don't know what we were thinking as we left our warm bed and breakfast and headed out in the snow for wine tasting and dinner at this Batesville, Indiana winery. It was the first significant snowfall of the season and the roads were slick - taking us twice as long to get there as it should have. I thought we were out of the woods once we turned onto the road where the winery is located, but we soon stopped the car and contemplated if we should turn around. We could see the lights of Ertel Cellars ahead, but we were facing a steep hill down and another hill to climb before we would be there. We could also see a car in the ditch at the bottom of the hill. It seemed like such a shame to get so close just to turn around - so we continued. Thankfully we made it safely. FYI: the car in the ditch was an Ertel Cellars employee attempting to get to work and they had already sent for a tow truck to help him.
Once me made it safely into the building, it was no surprise that there were very few visitors in the winery. We stepped up to the tasting counter and our friendly hosts treated us to a nice wine tasting before dinner. There were so many to choose from (approximately 15-20 wines) and I tried to choose some for our tasting that might be appropriate to have with our dinner. I was very impressed with the quality of all the wines and the friendly and knowledgeable staff. I found a few wines that I really enjoyed and I knew I would be able to choose something nice to compliment whatever I chose to order for my evening meal.
After our sampling we moved into the nearby dining room for dinner. It was a huge open room with high ceilings - I loved the atmosphere. Even though the trout special sounded very interesting, we both ended up ordering Filet Mignon, so we figured a bottle of Chambourcin would fit the bill. Everything we were served for dinner was absolutely delicious and I saved some of the wine to have with dessert. I can never resist ordering creme brulee when it is on the menu, but this one left a little to be desired. It was a tad runny and certainly not the best I have had, but it didn't put a damper on the wonderful evening we had until that point.
It was getting late and it was time to venture back out in the snow for the journey to our bed and breakfast. We had a fabulous tasting and a scrumptious dinner - though it was overshadowed a bit by the thought making the drive home. We ordered a few bottles of wine to take with us and headed on our way. I plan on returning to Ertel Cellars during warmer weather to experience the winery again under better circumstances. It was cold and dark, but the outside looked like it would be beautiful during the summer months, and I believe I saw a nice outdoor seating area that probably has a great view. I'll go back and see for myself when the sun is shining.
French Lick Winery - A former piano factory is the home of this West Baden Springs, Indiana winery. As we drove toward the building, I took in our surroundings. The building is large, but colorless. It truly looked more like we were approaching a factory, and not a winery. The entrance did have a rather large deck with lots of seating and a huge awning stating that we were at "French Lick Winery" welcomed us. As we entered, I hoped that we would find something nicer on the inside than we found on the outside.
When we entered the building, we found ourselves in a large, open room. You could see everything the winery had to offer the moment you walk in. The merchandise area was to the left, the tasting counter was at the back of the room, and to the right were tables and chairs for the restaurant. I knew the winery had a restaurant on-site, but I didn't realize you would be sitting right out in the open with all the wine tasters and shoppers looking on. The whole room was also dimly lit. It was a bright, sunny day outside but the inside had no windows and seemed dull and dreary.
There was plenty of space available at the tasting counter, so we walked right up. The tasting sheet was pretty long and featured approximately 20 wines. A girl came up to us right away and asked us what we would like to sample. We decided to start with a Leon Millot. We had barely taken a sip, when she came back and asked us what we wanted next. We opted for the Steuben and finished our previous sample quickly. She poured the Steuben and returned a minute later to see what would be next. I told her we really liked to take our time and it would probably be a couple of minutes before we were ready. She seemed content to wait and just stood there in front of us. We decided to take the opportunity to ask a few questions and joke around with her a bit...but she really wanted none of that. As a matter of fact...she didn't crack a smile the whole time we were there. I decided that if she wanted to wait on us, she would just have to wait. I wasn't going to rush through our sampling....though it was uncomfortable. She really didn't want to talk to us...and we felt uncomfortable discussing the wines we were sampling with her standing right there. We spent a good bit of time just keeping our mouths shut and looking around the room.
Even through the uncomfortable tasting, we did find a couple of very nice wines. I really enjoyed their Foch. It was a little sweeter than others I have sampled, but had a nice, dry finish. I also found the Montmorency Cherry to be spectacular. It was pretty tart and reminded me of a homemade cherry pie...certainly one of the better cherry wines I have had. Gary's favorites were the Cayuga White and the Catawba.
We were near the end of our journey for the day, so we decided to get a glass of wine and sit outside on the deck. I ordered a glass of Foch and Gary ordered the Catawba and we headed outside. We found a nice corner table with a big umbrella for shade. It was nice to sit down and relax for awhile. The only problem was the atmosphere. The outdoor seating overlooks the parking lot and the building is certainly nothing to look at. We spent most of our time there discussing things they could do to improve the atmosphere to make it more comfortable and welcoming.
There's not much to speak of in regards to atmosphere at French Lick Winery, but they do offer a nice selection of wines. Everyone is sure to find something they'll enjoy here. We also heard that the food in their restaurant was quite good, but we didn't get a chance to try it. Favorite: Montmorency Cherry.
Lanthier Winery - This winery, located in Madison, Indiana, is the oldest winery in the area. Its location, near the banks of the Ohio River, provides a charming atmosphere to enjoy some wine on a lazy afternoon. We arrived late in the day and walked through their gift shop to the tasting counter. As we were walking through the gift area, I couldn't figure out if they really liked Christmas and sold a lot of holiday items all the time...or if they had just started placing holiday items out in early October. There were many unique and interesting things to look at as we walked through the shop.
We approached the tasting counter and took a look at the wine list. They had a very nice selection to choose from. I started with a couple of dry reds, then went on to the sweeter grape and fruit wines. As I explained in the Chateau Pomije review...we took a couple of friends on this trip. This was our fourth stop of the day and they were not used to pacing themselves on this kind of wine tasting trip. They were making some comments about the wines they didn't like. I could tell our hostess was getting aggravated...but she did a great job of keeping her cool. Gary and I were not sure what to do (since we normally don't take anyone with us) so we just stood back and kept to ourselves. I personally found many of their wines to my liking...as did Gary.
We were staying at a nearby hotel, and even though we knew our friends had probably had enough, we generally save time near the end of the day to relax at a winery when we are within walking distance of the hotel. I ordered a bottle of wine for the four of us to split, because I really wanted to go outside and enjoy the lovely gardens. We found a nice table outside and sat down to drink some wine and take in our surroundings. Lanthier Winery has a large garden area outside with tables scattered far enough apart for everyone to enjoy some privacy. We spent the time talking about all the different types of beautiful flowers and discussing the paintings on the outside of the building. Lanthier takes great pride in their garden area...and it shows.
You won't find acres of grapevines at Lanthier Winery...but you will find an elegant, small-town charm that you won't find at many wineries. When you add that to their great wine and relaxing atmosphere, a visit to Lanthier Winery is a must when in southern Indiana. Favorite: Strawberry Blush.
Madison Vineyards - WOW! This magnificent estate winery is located just north of Madison, Indiana. When we stepped out of the car, we could see the tasting room to the right...and their beautiful new bed and breakfast in the distance. When we walked into the tasting room the woman behind the counter immediately acknowledged us, even though she was guiding a young couple through a tasting. We looked through their gift items while we waited. They offered a lot of nice wine items and I immediately found a Madison Vineyards t-shirt that I wanted to buy for my son.
I walked up to the counter while she was finishing up with the couple. I had read a sign on the wall telling customers they could have five samples for free...so I got to work picking out the five I wanted to try. Our hostess set some glasses out for us and began telling us about the wines Madison Vineyards offers. It turned out that they were sold out of a couple of wines...so we basically got to taste all the rest (approximately 7) for free. We started with their newest release "Ba Da Bing", a great dry red...and ended with "Black Dog", a sweet Foch blend. Many of their varieties are estate wines and all of them were very pleasing. Our hostess was also very knowledgeable and comfortable to talk to. She was the kind of person that makes you want to hang around for awhile...so we did.
Madison Vineyards had different varieties of cheese and crackers available for purchase, so we bought a snack, a bottle of Black Dog, and headed out to the large deck on the back of the building. We found a seat and I poured some wine while Gary sliced some cheese. It was a picture-perfect day and it was nice to be able to relax for awhile and enjoy the view of the blue sky and vineyards. After awhile, our hostess came outside to check on us...but nothing she could have done would have made our visit more perfect than it already was.
Madison Vineyards offers the perfect mixture of great wine, outstanding service and magnificent scenery. You'll certainly want to allow a little extra time when visiting...you won't want to leave without taking in everything they have to offer. Favorite: Black Dog.
The Ridge Winery - For some it's finding the perfect Chardonnay, others are in search of a relaxed tasting experience and for us it's the hope of finding a winery with great wine, excellent service and gorgeous surroundings. That's exactly what we found at this winery in Vevay, Indiana.
The Ridge Winery is nestled along the banks of the Ohio River approximately 30 minutes outside of Madison. As we drove the river road to the winery, we were not sure what to expect. The Ridge does not have a website, so we had no idea what would be waiting for us when we arrived. I was very pleased when I first laid eyes on the place. The new tasting room sits right on the Ohio River. As we were walking to the door, we could see the large wooden deck with a gorgeous waterfront view.
The tasting room was empty when we entered, but we were soon greeted by a woman coming in from the deck. She asked if we would like to sample some wine and she immediately placed some glasses on the counter. They offered a nice selection of dry, sweet and fruit wines and we sampled approximately 6 of them. Their wide selection offers something that everyone will like. I was very happy with the wines I sampled and I wanted so much to buy a bottle and sit on the deck for awhile and watch the boats roll down the river...but it was only 10:30 a.m....much too early to do more than sampling.
After the tasting we wandered around the tasting room and looked at the various gift items they offered for sale. So often we see the same items again and again...but I found several nice decorative items that I had not seen before at other wineries. When we were finished looking around, we purchased a few bottles of wine to take home and stepped out on to the deck to take in the scenery for a few minutes. If you're planning a visit to The Ridge Winery, you might want to plan to spend a little more time at this up and coming winery than we did. A bottle of great wine with their exceptional view would make a wonderful afternoon.
Thomas Family Winery - We were pretty optimistic when we walked into this winery in downtown Madison, Indiana. We had just finished a great meal at the Key West Shrimp House and were looking forward to a relaxing evening drinking wine. When we walked in we stopped at a display just inside the door where they had some items for sale. That's when we got our first clue that this evening would not go as planned. A woman approached us (she must have realized we were not locals) and told us that they didn't offer tastings after 5:00 p.m., but that we were welcome to have a seat and purchase wine by the glass or bottle. I didn't really understand why. There were only 6 other people in the place and it was a long while before the live music was scheduled to play...but we had a seat anyway.
We took a look at the wine list. I hated ordering by the glass without a tasting, but I ordered the Rio Red, Gary ordered the Riesling, our friend Tammy ordered the Chardonnay and Linda ordered a non-alcoholic drink. None of us were all that pleased with our choices...but we didn't have much of a choice at this point. We sat and chatted for a while until the accoustic duo finally started playing. The winery was pretty busy by this time. We listened to the music for awhile. We had all finished our wine...and Tammy seemed to be enjoying the music.
While my friends were listing to the music, a man approached me. He lived in Madison and asked if I was visiting. I told him my purpose for coming to Madison...and told him about this website (of course I like to promote it when I can). What I didn't realize, was that he knew the owner and went to tell him about our being there. A few minutes later the owner came over and introduced himself. He asked if he could bring a few samples to the table...and I told him it would be alright. He brought over a sample of "Gale's Hard Cider" (the house specialty) and three more wines. We each took a taste from the four glasses. Tammy decided she really liked the hard cider and polished it off. The owner told us to let him know if we would like more samples...but it was getting very late and we were all exhausted. I wish I had tried the hard cider earlier...because I might have ordered it instead of the glass of wine I had. I also wish I had a chance to try their Michigan Cherry wine and their Sack (a Colonial-style sherry), but we had already decided it was time to leave before he started bringing samples to the table.
Tammy ordered a bottle of the hard cider to take home...then we paid the bill and headed back to the hotel. I wish we had been able to sample a few more wines at this pub-style winery...but it was really too little too late. If you're in Madison and looking for an evening out with live entertainment... Thomas Family Winery would be a great place to go. Just be sure to stop in early in the day to sample wine so you'll have an idea which one you want to order in the evening.
Turtle Run Winery - A bit of mystery surrounded our trip to this winery. We often receive suggestions from various people about wineries we should visit. Sometimes it's when we're visiting another winery...sometimes we receive emails from fellow wine enthusiasts telling us about their favorite wineries...but we had heard absolutely nothing about Turtle Run. We were ready to solve the mystery and see what this Corydon, Indiana winery had to offer.
The tasting room was small, but a lot of thought went into it. It had a tasting counter with four stools and another table to the side. When we walked in, there were two other people sampling wine. They were seated at the two center stools at the tasting counter, which didn't leave room for us. We were going to sit at the table, but it looked like they were near the end of their tasting, so we waited. The girl behind the counter gave us a tasting sheet to look at while she finished with the other customers. They offered a nice selection of 16 wines and the descriptions they provided made them all sound wonderful.
When it was our turn, we took two seats at the counter. We told our young hostess that it was hard to decide where to start. She suggested we just try them all. Gary opted not to - and I tried not to...but she kept talking me into sampling each one. I normally won't do this at our first stop of the day, but our hostess was so excited about each wine and she didn't think I should pass any up. Since Gary skipped several of the dry wines, I nicknamed him "Skipper" for the day as we worked our way through the wine list.
Our hostess was extremely friendly and seemed to know a lot about the wines. I was surprised to find out it was her first day on the job. She said she had been fan of Turtle Run wines for awhile, as well as a frequent customer. It only seemed natural that she finally take a job in the tasting room. I was delighted with many of their wines. The unoaked Vignoles was a light and fruity wine with lots of zing. The White Chambourcin was a personal favorite. I bought a bottle to bring home and opened it shortly upon my return. The Rhapsody in Red is a blend of Chambourcin and Zinfandel and each sip had a wonderful lingering ending. The Rufus Red was a really lively Concord - some are syrupy - but this one was just right. I also found the Pop's Port to be a very easy-drinking Port. It does contain some overripe Chambourcin (one of my favorite grapes) - so it was no wonder I liked it.
I wish our visit to Turtle Run hadn't been our first stop of the day. It seemed like a place that we would have enjoyed hanging out for awhile...but we save that for our last stops when we are on the road. The people there were super nice and I didn't sample one wine that I wouldn't have enjoyed a full glass of....they were all exceptional. The mystery was solved: Turtle Run Winery is a small winery with some big wines and plenty of friendly, personal service. Favorites: White Chambourcin and Rufus Red.
Winzerwald Winery - We crossed into a new time zone for the very first time when we visited this Bristow, Indiana winery. The winery has a rural location at the end of a narrow, dead-end road. As we walked from the car to the tasting room, I noticed how peaceful it was there. There were two or three tables sitting outside with canopies shading them. One couple had taken advantage of the outdoor seating and were talking and enjoying a glass of wine. The outdoor environment that Winzerwald has created wasn't the best I have seen. It certainly didn't make me want to stay and enjoy the atmosphere...but they have a great location and plenty of room. They could do something really nice outdoors if they wanted to.
The tasting room was small - with room for just six or eight people at the counter. Someone was making purchases when we arrived, so we looked around the room at the large selection of wines that they offer. Being a German winery, I couldn't begin to pronounce some of the new names I found...but I also saw many old favorites. When the winery's customer had left with his purchases, we walked over to the counter to begin our tasting. Since Winzerwald is a smaller winery, we were not surprised that winemaker, Dan Adams, would be serving as our host.
Our host was very laid-back and allowed us to sample the wines in a relaxed manner. They had 21 wines available for sampling and we each chose approximately eight to try. Some of their best bets: Schillerwein - A lush German-style rose. Chambourcin Reserve - A gold medal winner, this semi-dry wine was absolutely excellent. Forest Red - Similar to Chianti, but sweeter. Little Rhineland Red - an easy-drinking concord with a bit of a bite.
After our tasting, we decided not to stay for a glass of wine, but instead purchased some wine to take home with us. We still had two other wineries to visit before the end of the day. Although it's not the most desirable outdoor atmosphere we've come across...we might have stayed to enjoy a glass of wine if we had not been pressed for time. Winzerwald Winery did offer a great selection and we were very pleased with all the wines that we sampled. Favorites: Chambourcin Reserve and Forest Red.