Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Fermenting a Family Business

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Country Heritage Winery in LaOtto was started by Jeremy and Jennifer Lutter.  It is set on a family farm that has been in Jeremy’s family for over 100 years.  Jeremy and Jennifer began farming approximately 1600 acres of corn and soybeans.  They purchased a 26 acre blueberry farm in 2001 and have since then expanded it to 30 acres.  Jennifer explains that the onset of their winery came from the suggestion of fellow winemakers that they met while selling fruit.  “After much research and hard work we opened Country Heritage Winery on April 29, 2011.  We continue to raise 30 acres of blueberries and have since added 26 acres of grapes, 50 acres of sweet corn, 10 acres of melons and 10 acres of pumpkins.  All of the produce is sold in our winery.”

The winery has been thriving since opening day.   Jennifer said that, “We now employ four full-time employees and approximately 20 seasonal and part time help.  Jeremy and I are both involved with all aspects of the day-to-day decisions and processes."

Country Heritage Winery bottles approximately 20,000 gallons per year which they turn into 40 different styles and types of wine. “We produce everything from a nice dry red or white to a sweet fruit wine and everything in between.  Our wines are produced from 100 percent fruit.  White groups are brought in pressed and the wine is produced from the juice they provide,” Jennifer explains of the wine making process.  “They are fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Red grapes and all fruits are fermented on the skin to provide color and a full flavor and body.  When color and body is achieved, they are pressed and moved to stainless steel tanks to finish fermenting and to be clarified.  The whole process can take anywhere from six months to one year.  Dry red wines are then moved to oak barrels for aging that can take approximately one to three years.  Everything is then bottled and labeled for future sales.  Most of our wines are sold through the front doors of our winery.  We are moving in to the wholesale market on a small scale.”

Did you know that Traminette is Indiana’s signature grape and wine?  “Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard grows Traminette in our vineyard and produce both a sweet and dry style white wine from the grapes,” says Jennifer.  In 2013, Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard’s Traminette was named Indiana’s Traminette of the year at the Indy International Wine Competition.

If you are looking for something to do this summer, plan a trip to northeastern Indiana and visit Country Heritage Winery.  You can peruse the gift shop which carries local products and wine accessories, sample wine and fudge made in house, enjoy a glass or bottle of wine in their event room or under the gazebo overlooking the vineyard, or simply take a tour of the production facilities.  Enjoy music or special events on the weekends.  Visit their website for more details.

1 comment:

Lana Wallpe said...

This sounds soooo good. I need to try this wine!