Saturday, October 23, 2021

Indiana Wine - Country Heritage Vineyards and Winery

 Indiana Wine - Country Heritage Vineyards and Winery in northeast Indiana

Visiting northeastern Indiana we visited Country Heritage Vineyards and Winery outside the hamlet of LaOtta, Indiana, north of Fort Wayne. I chronicled Indiana wines in an earlier blogpost.

I've written before about Indiana wine and the challenges of growing terroir driven quality grapes in the climate and soil there, hence our expectations were fairly modest. Like many midwest producers, Country Heritage craft wines from estate grown grapes, grapes imported from around the region, and grapes imported from as far away as California and Washington State. 

We were surprised and impressed with the vastness and extent of the Country Heritage Vineyards, Winery and hospitality center. This is a serous operation with intent on producing quality fine wines as well as every day sipping wines. They vastly exceeded our expectations in every respect - their vineyard operations, their craftmanship in winemaking, their winery operations, and their marketing, branding and promotions. 

Country Heritage Winery & Vineyards are owned and operated by Jennifer & Jeremy Lutter on the Lutter family farm that has been in the family over several generations going back over a hundred years. 

On their several hundreds of acres of croplands across Noble County, Swan Township (shown below), they have planted over 70 acres of vineyards - practicing serious viticulture to grow select grapes suited to the terroir - soil, climate and all elements of place. 

Country Heritage also source grapes through contracts with numerous growers around the region, and from growers as far away as California. 

Shown adjacent below are the land holdings of the Lutter Family farms across Swan Township in Noble County, Indiana.

They brought in Kevin Geeting as Head Winemaker - locally born and raised, he learned winemaking through his own studies and experimentation, then learned the tradecraft as assistant winemaker at a winery in Virginia before returning to Indiana to take on responsibilities with the Lutters at Country Heritage. 

Teaming with the Lutters and their generations of experience growing excellent crops, they've developed an extensive estate of vineyards and winery production facilities to produced a broad extensive portfolio of wines. 

Traveling north from Fort Wayne on State Route 3, one comes across the vast Country Heritage estate vineyards and winery. The vast hospitality center consists of a retail tasting bar and giftshop, a vast tasting hospitality room that extends out to patios, gardens and an amphitheater with stage for concerts and entertainment. There is also a wine cellar with private dining room and barrel room for private tastings and dinners. 

The wine cellar dining room features a vast dining table that seats sixteen, handcrafted personally by proprietor Jeremy Lutter (shown below). 

The tasting bar offers tasting flights of personally selected flights featuring their broad portfolio of red, white, blush rose, sparkling and fortified dessert wines as well as fruit wines - estate, private label, special selections and vintage library wines.

They source grapes from notable wine regions to craft French and American varietal own label wines such as Petit Verdot from Sierra Foothills, CA, Petit Sirah from CA, Syrah from Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, and Merlot from Walla Walla, Washington, and a Proprietor's Reserve vintage Bordeaux Blend from various sources in California. While these were not available for tasting, based on the quality of some of the tasting selections, we picked up some of these premium labels to try at home. 

As always, our goal was to explore their signature wines that best represent their estate viticulture and terroir as well as their winemaking craftsmanship. 

Focusing on their estate (home grown) wines, our tasting flight consisted of these Country Heritage labels:

Traminette 2020
Vignobles 2020
Petit Pearl 2018
Norton 2018
Vintner's Cuvee - Winemaker's Blend (Calaveras County, CA) - Tasting Note
Auburn-Cord-Dusenberg Commemorative Bottling 2020
Ice Age White - Late Harvest blend of La Crescent and Vignobles 

They also produce this commemorative bottling of the annual car festival at the northwest Indiana classic car Auburn-Cord-Dusenberg Museum in nearby Auburn, Indiana, another regional destination, attraction.

Purchased Wines from their select premium and library collections

Ice Aged White Dessert Wine

Special private label bottling - New Year's Eve
also owner/proprietor's birthday - 1231

Special release - Proprietor's Blend Bordeaux Blend

Watch for future wine tasting postings as we explore these wines further.