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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Starlight Distillery (Huber Winery)

    Last week I stopped by the Huber Orchard/Winery/Distillery in Starlight, Indiana. This is a big tourist farm complex, and this is a big time of year for them, with people tramping off for the "U Pick" pumpkins and apples. They've got a farm market and a petting zoo and a restaurant and all the other things I associate with this type of attraction.

    Based on my experience with similar businesses in Wisconsin and Iowa and Michigan I did not have high expectations. At those they make cloyingly sweet wine from North American grape varieties, which the tourists take home by the caseload. Anything they have drinkable is made with grape juice trucked in from California. (in defense of this practice, vitis vinifera can't survive in the cold winters up there, so the best they can do is indigenous and hybrid grapes).

    I underestimated Huber. As much as they advertise, and as big as the crowds are, they seem to take their wine and brandy making seriously.

    Sure, they've got a big collection of syrupy grape and fruit wines (including concord!), but they've also got a few dry reds and whites made with hybrid and vinifera grapes.

    All their wines and brandies are made with fruit they grow on their farm. Nothing is trucked in.

    I sampled a couple of the dry reds. The most impressive was the Heritage, which I didn't realize until I was driving home is probably a play on the word "Meritage". It's a Bordeaux-style blend, and it was pretty decent. I'm not sure I'll buy any, but I could certainly drink it if it was served. They also make an icewine, which I did not try.

    They've even planted some malbec vines, which should be producing grapes before too long.

    They make brandy, too, out of grapes and a lot of other fruit. I sampled the three offered: "brandy", reserve brandy, and apple brandy.

    The plain brandy is sold in tall skinny (think icewine) 375ml bottles for $21. The other two are in 750ml bottles and cost $60 a piece. My guess is that the first is sold as a souvenir, since the small bottle allows them to sell it for a substantially lower price. All three are aged in new white oak barrels (as are some of their red wines). The barrels at least in part come from Louisville's Kelvin Cooperage (where I get my barbecue wood).

    I am not a brandy drinker, so I'll be brief. The low end one was harsh and hot. The reserve, which has more age on it, was much smoother. The apple surprised me because the apple taste was just barely there in the nose and the finish.

    They also make fortified wines which they call "Infusions", mixing a variety of fruit wines with brandy make from the same fruit, meaning the Blueberry Infusion is blueberry wine with blueberry brandy.

    The still they use is one of those small hybrid things that looks like a pot still on the bottom and a little column on the top. They were not distilling when I was there. It was made in Germany, not across the river in Louisville.

    I went there expecting it to be just a family tourist attraction, but it's a real farm, winery, and distillery that happens to have a tourist attraction attached.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002

    Re: Starlight Distillery (Huber Winery)

    I wonder if they every tried to plan Norton / Cynthiana grapes? Those would probably be a good choice for Indiana and would make a good red wine.

    I love this time of year...the fall trips to orchards, pumpkin patches...today was an abnormally hot October day...the yellow jackets, other wasps and mosquitos are a real pain..plus those little orange "lady bugs" that bite..come on a hard Freeze!

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999

    Re: Starlight Distillery (Huber Winery)

    Their still has one special modification, an agitator so they can distill from a mash.



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