In an interior that blends the aura of a club with that of a good friend’s living room, minimalist geometric paintings reminiscent of Rothko’s work hang alongside classical portraiture on the walls. Beneath the swaths of color, patrons direct their own tasting experiences with self-serve Enomatic machines, which draw from dozens of bottles to dispense servings of 1–6 ounces of red or white wines. More than 30 domestic and international wines star on the wine list, from sweet rieslings to cabernet sauvignons to the deep red of a rebellious bull’s Camaro. Sharable plates, including baked brie with apricot compote and flatbreads topped with steak and Stilton blue cheese, fuel conversation.
When Harmony Winery co-owner Kevin Croak was a teenager growing up on Long Island, he experimented with making wines from sugar and the juice of wild berries. "I used to hide them in the cemetery behind my house, hoping my dad wouldn't find them," Croak told the Indianapolis Star. "But I didn't understand about fermentation, and the bottles blew up." Luckily for visitors to the cozy tasting room and winemaking studio, Harmony Winery has mastered all aspects of the vino-crafting process. Now, they invite their guests to do the same through fun, informative classes and you-make-it bottling sessions.
Clients stop in to sample some of Harmony's 35 different vintages amid luxurious leather sofas, a warm fireplace, and friendly company, pairing their wines with fine chocolates and seasonal dinner selections. Guests can cozy up to a tasting bar or commune in an event space outfitted with a big-screen TV and surround sound. Aspiring vintners hone their crafts with the winery's extensive selection of supplies, which includes custom labels for weddings or holidays, bohemian-crystal decanters for letting wine breathe, and vacuum pumps for trapping wine-spoiling poltergeists. Harmony Winery also demonstrates how cost-effective and healthy homemade wine can be, and how self-crafted vino can have lower levels of tannin and sulfites.
The story of Mallow Run Winery reads like a Steinbeck novel with a happy ending—a tale of romance, music, and farm life. John Richardson grew up on the 600-acre plot where Mallow Run now resides, but left for 35 years to become a teacher. During this time, he raised his son, Bill, whose dream of following the pastoral path of his ancestors led him to pursue a degree in Agriculture at Purdue University. After he graduated and his father retired, they both returned to John’s stomping ground with the intent of growing grapes for various Indiana wineries. Bill would meet his wife, Laura, while playing music locally in the Carmel Symphony—the former on French horn and the latter on clarinet—and thus, the triumvirate behind Mallow Run Winery was born.
Between the bushels of corn and soybeans that spring from the verdant fields, eight acres of grapevines produce the plump fruit that goes into bottles of Chardonel, Traminette, Seyval Blanc, and other varietals, and the tailpipes of any double-parked cars on the estate. The winery has become a destination to listen to live music in addition to sipping wine with friends and family, as the winery’s spacious lawn is often used for concerts from local artists.
Buck Creek Winery is truly the result of a joint effort between family and friends, and it began its first year with 1,500 vines. That was 1991. Back then, it was called Durm Vineyards, after its founders. With the help of the community, friends, and travelers from both near and far, harvests passed, and the founders sold their grapes to other wineries.
Rechristened Buck Creek Winery in the spring of 2006, the vineyard quickly became home to a host of award-winning wines, including Alley Cat, a slightly spicy red with notes of cranberry, strawberry, and territorialism.