Kimberly and John Doty felt the only way their small family farm could survive was to grow specialty crops and to directly market their product to the consumer, so they did just that.
The farm originally purchased 4 generations ago in 1888 has a diverse past. Being passed down on the maternal side, the name has changed several times, as well as the commodities grown. Historically, the land has produced corn, soybeans, and hay to feed cattle and hogs.
With the farm being passed down on the maternal side for generations, Kim found it only natural that she carry on the farming tradition, “I am connected to the farm and am proud of the heritage.”
The farm is located in an American Viticultural Area, which is described as a unique grape growing region because of the topography, climate and soil. The Doty’s grow these grape varieties; Chambourcin, Traminette (Indiana’s Signature Grape), Norton, Vidal Blanc, Catawba, Steuben, Cayuga White, Vignoles, Noiret and Cabernet Franc. All of the grapes grown here are used exclusively at their French Lick Winery.
Today, the farm is still changing. With 8 acres of grapes and new additions of wheat, and soon corn, the winery is good at adapting and changing. The Spirits of French Lick Distillery will be open later this summer, a new distillery, part of French Link Winery that will feature locally grown and milled grain in their products.
The Doty’s are very diverse in their operations, growing 10 varieties of grapes, wheat, and raising Katahdin hair sheep. They use technology on the vineyard for pruning and automated bottling in the winery. The distillery has a computerized control panel to “increase productivity and safety,” Kim said.
Owning their own winery has given Kim and John an independent lifestyle, where they can make their own hours and perform many different tasks. Although their job duties are always changing, the beautiful view of the White River from the vineyard is constant.
According to Kim, “The customer’s reactions to the products we make is the most satisfying part of the job.”Kim and John will pass down the farm and vineyard to their 2 sons, Aaron and Nicholas. In the future, they hope it will carry on to the next generations.