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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette A group of friends share a laugh while enjoying some wine this month at Byler Lane Winery in Auburn.

  • Free tastings are offered at Byler Lane Winery.

  • Byler Lane opened in Auburn in 2016.

Sunday, June 30, 2019 1:00 am

Good wine short drive away

7 area locations popular ways to take 'vacation'

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

Winery tips

If you are planning to go to a winery, there are a few things to consider before you take that first sip.

Don't forget your ID. If you are planning to drink, you must have it to be able to sample the wines. Have it ready when you go in.

Find out if the winery charges for tastings so you know how to budget. Most places offer at least one free tasting. In addition, many wineries sell food items such as cheese platters, fruits and other appetizer-like items.

Pets are welcome at some wineries, but there may be restrictions, such as keeping them outside. Make sure you call or check the website to see the rules before you bring your pet.

 Be open to trying a new wine or a flavor that you don't know about.

 Be patient if the tasting room is busy, especially if you go on a Friday or Saturday night.

A visit to a winery this summer is the perfect staycation getaway.

And northeast Indiana residents are lucky that they have seven wineries in the region.

Many of them are set in the country, with scenic settings, offering free tastings, live music, food, as well as good, locally produced wine.

“Why wouldn't you go to a winery this summer?” says Eldon Byler, co-owner of Byler Lane Winery in Auburn. “It's a getaway place.”

Byler says area wineries offer so many things in the summer, such as live music and food trucks, as well as a relaxed atmosphere.

“Customers feel like its an extension of their own backyard,” he says. “Just knowing that they are going to escape from reality for a few hours, get out of the city and out into the country.”

Byler says because many of the wineries are so close, many people will make a day or weekend of it, hitting multiple wineries on a tour.

Byler Lane Winery draws visitors from Toledo, Chicago, Indianapolis and Michigan, Byler says.

“With the awards that everybody keeps winning, the wine that is being produced, we really are one of the top winery destinations in the state,” he says.

If you are planning a winery “vacation,” here are a list of wineries in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio to get you started:

Hartland Winery, 425 County Road 23, Ashley. This small winery in DeKalb County knows it's not the largest producer of wine in the area, but it prides itself on its tagline, “small batch and handcrafted.” The small batches of wine come from a family-owned, four-acre vineyard. The owners began making wine in 2006 then decided to open a winery seven years later.

Hours: Closed Monday and Tuesday, noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; 260-587-3301 or hartlandwinery.com.

Byler Lane Winery, 5858 County Road, Auburn. Every business dream starts somewhere and this winery began as a small hobby in an owner's basement. The winery opened in 2016 in a building that was given a vintage look by using wood salvaged from four local barns with much of the work being done by the owners themselves.

The website says the wines are made from local grapes, as well as grapes from New York, Chile and California. The winery boasts a variety of drys, semi-sweets and sweets with the list changing from month to month.

In addition to free tastings, the winery also has events such as food trucks and music and a chance to taste its summer cocktail creations.

The website suggests that if visitors want a laid-back and relaxed tasting, they should try to visit Tuesday through Thursday, as well as Sunday or before 5 p.m. on Friday. If you are looking for a more festive atmosphere, Friday evenings and Saturdays may be your thing. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, especially in the summer and fall.

Hours: Closed Monday; noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; 260-920-4377 or bylerlanewinery.com.

Briali Vineyards & Winery, 102 W Indiana 120, Fremont. Located on what used to be the Country Meadows Golf Course, this winery has gently rolling hills and offers craft wine from dry to sweet with a focus on dry reds. The winery, which opened in 2012, uses eco-friendly practices in its vineyard, which it describes as an advance form of organic farming.

The winery offers tastings and sales from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

For more information and to check on events, go to the winery's Facebook page or call 260-495-1919.

Satek Winery, 6208 N. Van Guilder Road, Fremont. Satek Winery started as a commercial vineyard in 1992 and eventually opened the winery in 2001.

The family-owned winery has expanded from its original 2 acres to 8 acres and offers wines in dry red and white, semi-dry, semi-sweet, fruit, dessert and ice wines.

And while grapes from the winery are used to make the wine, the volume of wine Satek produces requires them to purchase grapes from other vineyards in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California to help fill the need.

Tours of the winery are offered at 12:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are needed.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; 260-495-9463 or satekwinery.com.

Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard, 0185 County Road 68, LaOtto. This family-owned winery is tucked away on 42 acres of a grape-growing vineyard in LaOtto. It was constructed on the family farm, Blueberry Acres, and opened in 2011.

The website boasts the winery as a great place to relax with a spacious wraparound porch and gazebo, where visitors are surrounded by eight acres of vineyard.

Most of the wine is produced from the 24 acres of grapevines, but some wine is supplemented from fruits at farms in Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Washington and California, according to the website. The winery has a variety of dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet wines and even fruit wines such as blueberry, pineapple, blackberry and cranberry. It offers two complimentary tastings daily in its tasting room.

On Saturdays, there is a free tour of the winery, starting at the top of each hour beginning at noon through 6 p.m.

Visitors can also enjoy the summer concert series on Fridays and Saturdays through September.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 260-637-2980 or countryheritagewinery.com.

Two EE's Winery, 6808 N. U.S. 24, Roanoke. If you're wondering what the “EE's” in Two EE's stand for, it's the initials of owners Eric and Emily Harris, who opened the winery along U.S. 24 in 2013.

The tasting room, which offers the first two tastings free, provides visitors a wall of windows to watch winemakers as they work or you can walk out onto the covered patio, which offers a view of the vineyard.

The winery recently underwent an expansion with more parking and a new building expected to be completed by late summer that will provide larger facilities for winemaking and a new event venue.

The winery is currently conducting its Uncorked music events; check out the website (twoees.com) for dates.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; 260-672-2000.

Stoney Ridge Winery, 07144 County Road 16, Bryan, Ohio. About an hour's drive from Fort Wayne is the Stoney Ridge Winery, which boasts a 13-acre vineyard and rustic winery and tasting room. The family-owned winery opened in 2002 and is just off U.S. 127.

Visitors can not only sample the wines but enjoy the view of the vineyard, pond and woods from the outdoor patio. The winery also offers food, as well as live music performances.

Hours: (April to December) 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and closed Sunday; 419-636-3500 or stoneyridewinery.com. 

trich@jg.net