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September 21, 2013

Howard Hewitt: Indiana is on a wine roll

Huber's takes top wine with its Vignoles

For the second straight year an Indiana wine won top honors at the prestigious Indy International Wine Competition held in early August at Purdue University.

Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards took the honor for the competition’s top wine with its Vignoles. A year ago River City Winery won the prize also with Vignoles.

“I think Vignoles really hits a consumer sweet spot,” Ted Huber said in explaining the second straight Vignoles win. “Consumers want nice fruit but more and more without the sweetness.”

The wine comes in with a modest .73 percent residual sugar and a light 12 percent alcohol. The Vignoles is grown on the Huber 80-acre vineyard. Vignoles is a French hybrid grape that has been found to grow well in the Midwest.

Characteristically, the wine is semi-dry with low sugar and tastes of pineapple, honey and melon. On my palate it was the honey and a maybe a Honey Dew melon flavor that dominated the wine. Some wine drinkers not familiar with Vignoles might compare it to a Gewürztraminer. It has a bit of a floral characteristic on the nose but doesn’t overpower the wine. The wine can have an odd banana-like flavor that is, fortunately, missing from Huber’s wine.

"It's always very well-received in our tasting room," Huber says. "People are bashful about trying a semi-dry wine but pleased once they do. The tropical fruit on the palate makes it approachable. There's nothing else quite like it. It really holds its own."

Success is nothing new to Huber’s 80,000 case operation and tourist destination. “I think we’ve won something like 20 Governor’s Cups,” Huber said. The Indy International presents the Cup to the Hoosier winery with the most medals each year.

This year Huber won winemaker of the year, given to the winery with the most gold medals. They also won the Eagle Award for the Best Rose Wine, Huber’s Catawba Rose.

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