LEAVENWORTH, In. – A drive up the Ohio River sounded like a great two-day trip last fall. I didn’t get it done then, but I’m in mid-trip tonight (July 30).

The gray weather and frequent rain didn’t make it a perfect day but this unique area in Indiana is really beautiful. I drove up and down very curvy roads with a few spectacular views of the Ohio. (Yes, there is a Possom Junction!)

My wine trip was also part of a two-day vacation driving the Ohio River. Check out photo albums throughout these two blogs. An album from the Lincoln Boyhood National Park is here.

I also made visits to Winzerwald Winery near Bristow and the new Blue Heron Winery with a spectacular view of the Ohio River.

Here is the second set of photos which includes river pictures and shots taken at the two wineries.

I had been to Winzerwald on two previous occasions and enjoyed chatting with Dan Adams. Dan recently retired as director of the Perry County Parks department and is now focusing all his efforts on the winery.

Winzerwald makes all its wines in a German style honoring the family’s German heritage. Last year Dan made just over 2,200 cases of wine and expects to be near 3,000 this year. Winzerwald is also a frequent participant at many of the Indiana wine festivals.

Most of their grapes come from the immediate area though he does buy fruit from Washington state. I’ve not seen alot of Pinot Noir in Indiana and Dan is making one from Washington grapes.

I tasted seven of his wines and will offer thoughts on a couple. I really liked his 7th Anniversary Catawba Rose’ It had a beautiful nose and was nicely balanced. A really good bottle of wine for the $14.99 price point. It had a full fruit flavor but still could be considered a semi-dry to dry wine.

He makes a nice Riesling that’s his biggest seller in the whites. It had a hint of green apple and mild acidity. I like Riesling to have good acidity but its easy to see why many like the Winzerwald.

Dan had great success at the recent Indy International Wine Festival. His Cherry Red won a rare Double Gold Medal. I normally shy away from the sweet fruit wines, but this was really not what I expected. The nose had the Louden Cough Drop aroma and I was thinking, “oh no.” But one little sip and the experience was far different. The wine was nicely balanced and sweet but without the over-kill in so many Indiana wines.

He also makes a German-style Blaufrankish and Blaufrankish Reserve from Lemberger grapes grown in Southern Indiana. The primary difference between the $15.97 and $17.99 is the reserve gets a year in oak.

The less-expensive Lemberger was smooth with a lighter-than-expected feel on the palate. The oaked version was just a better glass of wine with a nose and taste of the 12 months in American oak.

Winzerwald sits pretty close to I-64 and is easy to visit if you’re on that interstate stretch between Louisville and Evansville.

It takes considerably more effort to make it to one of Indiana’s newest wineries, Blue Heron Vineyards. But let me tell you that it’s worth the effort.

Blue Herron Vineyards is south of Cannelton, on Ind. 166 – then you have to climb up a hill that is largely gravel road. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the top to see a beautiful facility, quaint tasting room and one incredible view of the Ohio River and Cannelton locks.

I had a great time with Lynn Dauby, who runs the winery with her husband Gary. Both are retired school teachers pursuing a dream.

They have made a limited number of wines and just started pouring this spring. They are distributing their wines only out of the tasting room so you won’t find them without an unlikely trip to Cannelton. They may undertake a couple of festivals this fall or next summer if they have enough wine.

Their first wines show potential. I tasted four of their five. They have two wines from their own Marechal Foch grapes. One was a little lighter and sweeter while I really liked the drier ‘Prime 23’ version. It was nicely balanced with a unique “cherry pie” fruit taste on the palate. I was picking up cherry and it was Lynn who suggested the “cherry pie.” I’ve had Foch at some Indiana wineries that was harsh, this was unique – in a good way!

They also have one of the more interesting Concord grape wines I’ve sampled. Most every Indiana winery makes this version of sweet red wine. The Blue Heron “On Deck Red” was lighter than most and while very fruity, it wasn’t as sickenly sweet as so many of them on market shelves.

Lynn also poured “On Deck White” which was … aaaa … different. It’s a blend of Cayuga and Chardonel. I couldn’t get a handle on it at all. But three out of four isn’t bad!

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