We couldn’t have ordered a better October Saturday than the one we had this weekend. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, and the temperatures were unseasonably warm. This was not the kind of day you stay home and veg out.
We started the day meeting some friends and neighbors for breakfast at a sweet little diner on the square in Noblesville, Sunrise Cafe at Uptown, which replaced another sweet diner we used to frequent years ago. Seating and space inside the diner is limited, so you may find yourself (as we did) with a wait outside. On days like yesterday, a wait in the sunshine is no problem.
After breakfast, we jumped on the interstate toward Bloomington and Oliver Winery, our next stop for the day. While we’ve passed this winery on several occasions when traveling to other places, we’ve never made it our destination before. Our friends have been there several times, and they were eager to share it with us.
The grounds of Oliver are really lovely for a winery in Indiana. They may not have the sweeping views of Napa, but they’ve made a lovely little spot here in the Midwest. Sculptures, water features, and lush gardens make this a little oasis right off the highway. There’s a large pond with picnic tables and plenty of shade for folks who choose to picnic with their recently purchased wine serving as the centerpiece. There was live music on the patio just starting up as we were leaving.
Oliver offers tours and tastings on the weekend, but the order of our day meant we only had time for a tasting. And the timing of our arrival (just before one o’clock) couldn’t have been more perfect—we were taken back to the tasting room immediately, but by the time we left, there was a pretty long line.
For just around $5 per person, we were able to sample our choice of eight wines. Tim and I tried to select different wines so that, by the end, we sampled more like sixteen wines, ranging from sparkling, dry, and dessert.
We’re not wine connoisseurs by any stretch, but we found the wine at Oliver to be decent for the price point and the climate. Some of the wines we tried were not our favorites, but we still found several that we would drink again. Our friends are self-proclaimed science nerds with an interest in viticulture, so their insights on the growing of grapes and the creation of wine added an extra layer of interest for our tasting. By the time we left, Tim was convinced we needed to turn our cellar into a wine cellar.
Our next stop was Mallow Run Winery, a smaller operation on a farm that’s been run by the same family since the mid-1800s. This winery is set in the middle of nowhere, and, had our friends not been there before, we wouldn’t have even known it existed. The rural setting makes for a lovely backdrop, and a wide deck and tent on the property were host to quite a few people out enjoying the weather and live music they had on offer.
Your choice of six wines comprise the tasting here, and, unlike at Oliver, the tastings are free. It seems that Mallow Run may specialize more in sweet wines, or perhaps my selections just ran more to the sweet side at this stop. The rhubarb wine was a novelty, and some of their wines were okay, but we didn’t leave with any bottles.
Last stop before heading home was Bargersville for a late lunch/early dinner. Another middle-of-nowhere, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of place, our friends’ previous travels dictated this stop. The old central downtown is small, and the most prominent thing there is a grain elevator that dominates the landscape.
Two restaurants edge the grain elevator: a barbecue joint and Taxman Brewery and Gastropub. The seasonal salad on the Taxman’s menu made the choice for dinner. Who can turn down honey crisp apple, candied walnuts, goat cheese, and maple and cider vinaigrette?
But that wasn’t the only amazing dish: the Harvest Mussels with pork jowl, caramelized apple and fennel, and brandy were a stellar appetizer, and the guys’ pimento cheese burger and tenderloin sandwich (with a tenderloin the size of your face) were, according to them, even better than they looked. Add that to tastings of some of their beers (including a bourbon-barrel aged ale right up Tim’s alley), and we are sold on stopping at Taxman again in the future.
Indiana may not be widely known for its wine and culinary achievements, but our experience today proved that it can’t be dismissed altogether! Such a beautiful day spent seeing new places and enjoying good food and drinks with great people!
Interested in learning more about the growing wine culture in Indiana? Check out indianawines.org.