Winery could benefit Trimble County tourism

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By The Staff

As a resident of Milton, I’d just like to throw my two cents in regarding the upcoming vote on whether to allow a winery to establish itself here in Trimble County.

I know that Trimble has been a dry county forever. I’m not really sure why, but having witnessed myself how alcoholism can be harmful to a person and to a person’s family, I do understand how people feel about the sale and use (or, more accurately, abuse) of alcohol.

That said, however, I would like for the voters in the East Bedford precinct to do a little research on the issue of wineries before going to the polls on Dec. 16.

First, a winery has very little in common with bars that sell beer and liquor by the drink. Wineries are destinations for people who like – or in my case, love – wine. Generally, they attract an older and more upscale clientele. OK, I’m not really upscale, but I think that way. When I travel somewhere and know I’ll have extra time, I’ll often try to find out if there are wineries nearby.

Many wineries, like Smith-Berry in Henry County and Elk Creek in Owen County, host evenings that combine wine-tastings with performances of all kinds of music. Smith-Berry also hosts very successful events that include excellent, homemade dinners and good music. We went to the first one this past summer and were surprised to see that more than 500 people also came to eat, drink wine and listen to Nervous Melvin and the Mistakes. Subsequent dinners there during the summer attracted as many as 650 people.

My husband and I have also visited all four wineries in Jefferson and Switzerland counties in Indiana, and have become fans of Vevay’s annual wine festival.

Granted, there are always those who choose to drink more than they really should. Hopefully, those folks have designated drivers. My bet is most wine drinkers do.

I do not know the people who are hoping to open a winery on U.S. 421, and I’m not even exactly sure where their property is located. But, if they make good wines and open a successful bed-and-breakfast (as was mentioned in the recent story), I believe it’s a safe bet this establishment would be a boon to tourism and commerce throughout Trimble County.

I don’t have numbers to back up my thoughts on this, but I have been to numerous towns with wine-tasting rooms and full-fledged wineries, and I find that these establishments draw well-educated, middle- to upper-class folks who have money to spend. Not only do they enjoy wines – most of them are interested in antiques, fine art, and quality homemade arts and crafts, and they also like gourmet foods and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

For example: Saugatuck, Mich., on Lake Michigan is where my husband and I spent our honeymoon last year. I did a lot of online research to figure out where we wanted to spend that week. We chose Saugatuck because it had some lovely bed-and-breakfasts, a variety of shops, and, moreover, two or three wineries in the area. We made it a point to stop in at each winery’s tasting room in town and buy a bottle or two of the ones we liked most.

Saugatuck is full of trendy gift shops, antiques stores and places that make and sell really good candies and ice creams. They also have several excellent restaurants and lots of touristy stuff to do.

The place is a tourist trap to rival all tourist traps, but it’s a wonderful atmosphere and we really enjoyed it. We often talk of going back.

We also enjoy visiting the River Valley Winery in Carrollton, next door to The News-Democrat office, and Shandio Valley Winery on Courthouse Square. Both have good wines; the Georgievs, who run River Valley, also offer a lunch menu and feature localmusicians on the weekends.

My bet is, if this winery opens and is successful, it will draw people from the nearby cities who often take day trips to “the country.” These people will visit the winery, and very likely will visit other establishments like Bray’s Orchard and Roadside Market, Bray Fruits, Callis Orchards, as well as the Crow’s Nest and other such businesses in the area. They might even head up to do some shopping in Madison, Ind., across the river, and stop to browse Trimble County shops along the way, or continue on to other wineries in the surrounding counties.

And if they are visiting the wineries in Henry, Owen and Carroll counties, they’ll probably make a Trimble County winery a destination, too.

I’m not advocating that Trimble become “wet”; but, I think allowing for this type of business would be a good move that, in the long run, could benefit the entire county.