At roughly 650 acres, Huber’s Orchard, Winery, & Vineyards (19816 Huber Road, Borden, Indiana, 812-923-9463, huberwinery.com) is the largest farm in Southern Indiana. And with 90 acres under cultivation with grape vines, it’s also the largest wine-grape producer in the state.
But what matters most to the Hubers is that the farm has been family-owned and operated since 1843. That’s when Simon Huber emigrated from Germany and settled on 80 acres in Southern Indiana. Now into the seventh generation of Huber oversight, the operation has grown and diversified. But, says Dana Huber, the family has not lost track of its roots. “We are farmers first. Our main goal is to keep the farm in the family.”
The farm was mainly a PYO operation through the 1970s, she explains. In 1978, the winery opened in a renovated dairy barn. Today, the farm is a popular destination with a Farm Park (complete with miniature tractor rides) for families, a farmstand, a bakery, casual restaurant, ice cream shop, and tasting room. The Hubers opened the state’s first distillery in 2000 and tours of the winery and distillery are usually offered twice a day.
Field to food
The farmstand (at top of the post) offers the succession of vegetables and fruits from spring through fall. Fruits alone include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches. Nothing beats a just-picked, perfectly ripe piece of fruit. But that’s no reason not to also enjoy some strawberry or peach ice cream. Or blackberry or blueberry bread. Or strawberry rhubarb pie. Or sweet peach or strawberry wine. Or blueberry port or peach brandy. You get the idea.
The Hubers grow 10 varieties of apples that ripen from mid-August through mid-October. Some apples are cast in red crackle, others in caramel (above). The fruit finds its way to the farmstand, but also into caramel apple nut bread, apple pie, apple cider donuts, and homemade apple cider. That’s not to mention Razzy Apple sparkling wine and Huber’s own apple brandy.
Fruit in the bottle
The winery and distillery are a big part of the operation, creating more than 70 wines, dessert infusions, fortified wines, and distilled spirits. That makes the tasting room in the upper loft the best place to end a visit. Dana’s husband, Ted, has been growing wine grapes for nearly 30 years. In 2013, Huber’s Winery became part of the Indiana Uplands designation. Unlike European wine region designations, the AVA (American Viticultural Area) specs describe the geography but do not limit yields or specify permitted varietals.
We tried some fruit wines and found the blackberry wine would make a good dinner companion. The Hubers make it nearly dry with nicely rounded tannins and intense fruit. Many of the grape wines are made from French-American hybrids, particularly some varieties popular in cold-climate Michigan and Wisconsin. The Hubers make what we think of as farmstead wines. The vines are heavily cropped and picked very ripe. Fermentation is by the book to wine-school standards. The pleasant winesy reflect the generous soils and climate where they are grown.
Of those we tasted, our favorites were the Seyval Blanc and the Cabernet Franc. The Seyval was smooth and fruity, expressing characteristic green apple and melon. If it had been aged on the lees, it might have gained even more complexity. The Cabernet Franc was also soft and ripe. The tannins that remained were principally green, and they gave the wine an impression of being robust. Aged in oak barrels, it seems to have benefited from the micro-oxidation without picking up excessive oaky flavors.