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TTB Approves Indiana Uplands AVA

Overlapping Ohio River Valley AVA boundary to be modified

by Hudson Cattell
Indiana Uplands AVA
The Indiana Uplands AVA becomes effective March 7.
Bloomington, Ind.—Earlier this month the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved the establishment of the Indiana Uplands American Viticultural Area (AVA), which will become effective March 7. The border of the new AVA in south-central Indiana forms a line between Morgan and Monroe counties and runs south 110 miles to the Ohio River. Nineteen Indiana counties are located partially or totally within the new AVA, which is about 63 miles wide from Clark to Martin counties, for a total acreage is approximately 4,800 square miles.

The petition to establish the AVA was submitted by Jim Butler of Butler Winery in Bloomington, Ind., and TTB published its proposed ruling June 8, 2012, in the Federal Register. Seven Indiana counties were partially or totally within the area overlapping the Ohio River Valley AVA. The 26,000-square-mile Ohio River Valley AVA was established in 1983 and encompassed the broad valley surrounding the Ohio River in four states: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and part of West Virginia. In the Indiana Uplands petition, evidence was submitted that the geology, soils and climate of the proposed AVA were distinctive when compared to the larger Ohio River Valley AVA.

TTB agreed and suggested a boundary adjustment to eliminate the potential overlap. At TTB’s request, the Indiana Uplands petitioner obtained letters from the owners of the 11 wineries and vineyards that would be affected if the Ohio River Valley AVA were to be modified. They all agreed that they would no longer use the Ohio River Valley AVA, and the modification became part of TTB’s proposed ruling. With the final ruling, the Ohio River Valley AVA is approximately 1,530 square miles smaller. Wineries within this area will be permitted to use the words “Ohio River Valley” on their labels for a period of two years, provided that the grapes were grown in that area and the labels are approved before March 7.

Out of more than 600 acres of grapes being grown in Indiana, approximately 200 acres are under cultivation in the Indiana Uplands AVA. According to the petition there are 19 vineyards in the AVA with two planned vineyards of 15 to 20 acres each as well as 17 wineries.

Nine wineries that are members of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail were responsible for working together to draw up the petition that made the AVA possible. They included Indiana wineries Best Vineyards in Elizabeth; Brown County Wine Co. in Nashville; Butler Winery of Bloomington; Carousel Winery of Bedford; French Lick Winery in West Baden Springs; Huber Winery & Starlight Distillery in Borden; Oliver Winery in Bloomington; Turtle Run Winery in Corydon and Winzerwald Winery of Bristow.

Kim Doty, owner of French Lick Winery and president of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, says that obtaining the AVA was difficult but “important to the legitimacy of a state’s wine industry.”

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellsperman, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture, agrees: “Having an American Viticulture Area declared for the Indiana Uplands truly shows just how important our vineyards are to our agriculture in Indiana.”

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