Satek Winery, located near the intersection of I-80/90 and I-69, sees great volume of traffic passing by; most drivers are unaware the winery exists before seeing the road signage, Jason Satek explains. “Satek Winery is, in a sense, a cautionary tale; what may happen if you follow your passion and let a hobby take over your life. If that sounds appealing, or even not unappealing, our story may even be inspirational.”
Jason’s father, Larry, began as an amateur winemaker around 1975 in Chesterton, Maryland. He was a college professor teaching chemistry, and the house that he and his wife rented happened to have a few grape vines in the backyard. “He had the knowledge, the raw materials, and the curiosity, and he had the time. He also had a 3-year-old, but I must not have been too time-consuming! He began with small batches and began the process of gaining experience. He found that he enjoyed it.”
Larry left academia in 1979 and took a job with Amoco Research in Illinois. “Amoco was acquired by British Petroleum and there had begun to be a great number of layoffs,” Jason explains. With three kids in college, Larry and Jason’s step-mother, Pam, decided to look to agriculture as a backup plan.
“My step-mother was raised in Fremont, in the 101 Lakes region of NE Indiana. Her great-grandfather had purchased 28 acres of lakeshore property on the third basin of Lake James in 1915—the land that they still reside on today.”
The Sateks cleared two acres of what was an apple orchard in the 1930’s and 40’s. They planted the original six varieties of grapes, which they tended, sprayed, pruned and harvested to sell to other wineries in Michigan and Indiana.
“In June of 2001, they opened Satek Winery and haven’t looked back.”
Satek Winery offers free wine tasting in the tasting room overlooking the production area. They usually carry around 20 different wines ranging from dry to sweet, red, white and rose, local and more remote. “We maintain quality across the board and have won medals for almost every wine ever made. Our better sellers are sweeter wines, but their success allows us to produce drier, more niche, wines that might appeal to a smaller, select audience.”
“My father and step-mother have long preached, ‘Good wine, good fun’ as a mantra, and we have developed a handful of yearly events: art shows, a holiday open house, a 5K run/walk and 10K run, and a celebration of Steuben County’s namesake Baron von Steuben, to name a few. But we have largely chosen to grow through distribution. Satek wine can now be found throughout Indiana, and that is a growth pattern any farmer could be pleased with.”