BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) - When you think wine country, you probably think Napa Valley or Sonoma, not Indiana. But there are now more than 90 wineries across the state, including one of the 50 largest in the United States.
Wine Business Monthly recently ranked Bloomington-based Oliver Winery 44th largest in the country, based on its production of 450,000 cases of wine sold last year.
Sara Anderson, a spokesperson for Oliver said, "it's surprising, but when you think about being distributed in 27 states and with the broad list and style of wine that's pretty unique it starts to make sense."
Oliver began in a hut, now a wine cellar, in 1972. It now includes a 54-acre vineyard, full-processing facility and newly remodeled tasting room with large outdoor patio, all surrounded by lush landscaping.
It's a place that draws 200,000 visitors a year, many surprised at what they see and sip.
"Because it's an unlikely place," Erick Smith said. "Normally you think California or the Columbia Valley in Washington not Indiana."
Smith and his wife Karen live in New Mexico.
"It's just beautiful to walk in and see the flowers," Karen said. "It's a very lovely place and the wine is good."
People are also surprised to learn that Oliver has its own vineyard, but Anderson said southern Indiana is well-suited for it "because of the long summers, the soil and the hills."
But Oliver also sources grapes from the west coast. Yet as Anderson well knows, when people hear Indiana wine, many still think of sweet wine, such as Oliver's cherry and blueberry Moscatos.
"Absolutely we make sweet wines and we do it well, really well and we're really proud of our sweet wines, but we also make-semi dry, dry wines and ciders," she said.
Oliver is among the nearly 30 Hoosier wineries taking part in the 10th annual Vintage Indiana wine festival at Military Park in Indianapolis Saturday. She hopes people get a taste of what Indiana has to offer.
"Amazing wines are being made in this state from dry to sweet, from things you expect to things completely new that you've never had before," she said. "We hope (people) come with an open mind and take away a new favorite."
The festival runs from noon-6 p.m. Tickets are $30 if purchased in advance and $40 at the gate.