Because of changes in Indiana’s laws in recent years, both wineries and distilleries have begun to flourish as one of the state’s newest attractions. We recently had the chance to visit the French Lick Winery and the Spirits of French Lick Distillery in, you guessed it, French Lick, Indiana. Located on the same property, both facilities offer oenophiles and liquorists great opportunities to sample some of southern Indiana’s best wines and spirits.
French Lick Winery While the distillery is a new, the French Lick Winery is 24-years old! The winery is owned by Kim and John Doty, with their two sons, Aaron and Nick, and Nick’s wife, Laurelin. also working in the family business. The original winery opened in French Lick’s Beechwood Mansion in 1995, before moving into its current location in 2004 at the old Kimball Piano Factory. The French Lick Winery and Vintage Café offers visitors the chance to sample dry, semi dry/semi sweet, sweet, sparkling, and fortified wines.
Many of the grapes used to make the family’s wines are grown right in Indiana, on the Doty’s family farm. The Doty’s operate the Heaven’s View Vineyard on a 128-year-old Hoosier Homestead Farm in nearby Martin County. Hoosier Homestead Farms are unique in that they recognize farms that have remained in the same family for 100, 150, or 200 years.
The Doty’s received this special recognition in 2015. Their sustainable farm is additionally unique in that the property has been passed down from mothers to daughters for four generations. The Doty’s 8-acre vineyard supplies the winery with several grape varietals including Cabernet Franc, Catawba, Cayuga, Chambourcin, Noiret, Steuben, Tannat, Traminette, and Vidal.
Spirits of French Lick The distillery is the newest Doty family venture, having opened just two years ago. The operation, headed up by Distiller Alan Bishop and his assistant Stephen McNeely, offers several exciting options not found anywhere else in Indiana, including Indiana’s only commercial Absinthe, Aquavit (a Scandinavian liquor), Old Tom Gin, Blackberry Eau-De-Vie (brandy), Sonroho (immature brandy), Vodka, Stamper’s Creek Rum, and their flagship product, Lee W. Sinclair 4 Grain Bourbon.
The distillers are currently working on bringing Apple Brandy and Rye Whiskey to the list this year.
Visiting Visitors can sample both the fine selection of wines and the unique spirits in the tasting room, with food options available at the Vintage Café. The facility is opened Sunday through Thursday from 11AM - 5PM and Friday and Saturday from 11AM-9PM. Distillery tours are available by appointment on most Saturdays.
Whatever your tastes and interests, the French Lick Winery and the Spirits of French Lick Distillery are worth the trip to French Lick. Our state is clearly going to through a craft beer, wine, and spirits renaissance and this winery and distillery are leading the way!