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Field Notes from a Wine Life – Hoosier Edition Pt. II of II

I looked on the state map and then looked again.  Yup.  Nope.  I could not find Pawnee, Indiana, the setting for the new television show, Parks and Recreation, set to debut on April 9th.

Even when Indiana gets some mention, it is fictitious, which is somewhat similar to being a winery or a wine enthusiast in the state – even when you are real, others do not always take you seriously.

Though, when it comes to television shows, I guess a laugh track is okay.

Starring Amy Poehler, ex-featured player on Saturday Night Live, and created by two of the writers/producers from The Office, Parks and Recreation promises to take a similar “talk to the camera” deadpan style in which the protagonist is completely deluded, this time, however, instead of Michael Scott’s non-politically correct managerial ineptness, it’s the small town local government player completely absorbed with the notion that she is doing important work.

A week ago when I checked out the mock web site at (good for a wry laugh when you consider the header image to the site shows empty storefronts) they had an Indiana state image and a star where the fictional city was fictionally located – about 90 miles northeast of Indianapolis.  It roughly approximated the location of the real Marion, Indiana, a mildly depressed manufacturing based town.

Now, just a scant seven days later, the star is gone and the City of Lafayette, home of the Purdue Boilermakers, 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis, is staking claim as the inspirational city.

Apparently, the props department for the show called the Lafayette Parks Department and mined them for research on the minutia of small town government work in a Midwestern – you know the important stuff like what do the desks and Ford Taurus fleet vehicles look like …

Related to wine, the real Lafayette is home to important Indiana related wine stuff – our state viticultural extension and council is located there. 

The Indiana Wine Grape Council does do a nice job sponsoring the Indy International Wine Competition (the second largest wine competition in the country); amongst general support of the growing Indiana wine business.


Also located nearby, in Monticello, IN, the home of Indiana Beach where the phrase, “There’s More than Corn in Indiana” comes from, is Whyte Horse winery, an up and comer that brings together everything that you’d like to see in a local winery – a good story, quality packaging, vinifera wines, French hybrid wines and the cordial style wines to please the masses.

In fact, two items really engender me to Whyte Horse. 

First, their back-story is interesting, as noted on their web site:

… we noticed a property that was for sale by owner.  We were told that it already had a full-price offer. We made a backup offer and were told it would probably be of no avail. The next day we received a call that the owner of the property wanted to speak with us.  When we called the owner back, she asked “Will you take the horse”? We had seen the horse the day before in the pasture. When questioned what she meant, she replied that she had a 25-year-old white mare that she couldn’t take with her. The people with the existing offer did not want the horse but if we would take the horse with the property we could have it all. Our prayers were answered, we gladly took Molly and the deal and our journey began.

They bought the white mare and Whyte Horse was born.

The second thing that they do that I appreciate is they grow Traminette and Vignoles as a part of their estate vineyard.

For those not familiar with hybrids, they are French-American crosses designed to create elegant and notable wines that also can withstand a cold winter.

There are a good number of hybrids that are oft neglected in our national wine conversation that create surprisingly high quality and enjoyable wines.

Traminette is a cross between Seyval Blanc and Gewurztraminer creating a wine that can have stone fruit flavors with the Gewurtz spiciness.  It can be produced both sweet and dry, good for the Midwest.  When dry, it’s good stuff and under-appreciated.

Vignoles is also a winner with Riesling-like characteristics that can also go sweet or dry.  In both instances, prominent tropical notes of pineapple and stone fruits are present creating a lip-smacking drink that invites summer sipping.  When used in a dessert wine its fabulous, rivaling Vidal Blanc, another hybrid.

Even though Parks and Recreation focuses on the fictitious, angling for chuckles, Indiana often gets short shrift on the respect-o-meter, not too mention steerage classification for its wine passengers.  However, several things will occur over the next decade that should cause others regionally and nationally to take notice, particularly around wine – hybrids will become a bigger part of our consumption landscape, and alternate wine regions, yes, even Midwest wine regions, will continue to develop in prominence.  And, that’s no joke. 


Posted in, Indy Food & Wine. Permalink | Comments (2) |


On 03/31, charles wrote:

You beat me to it!  I was planning on visiting them (and another close by winery) in the next few weeks. I almost went Sunday, but decided to head east to another winery.

Still, great article.  Did you go to winery?  The place looks beautiful from the website, which is one reason I am so eager to go.

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