In part three of my wine weekend, the three of us left Oliver and drove down some winding and hilly roads to Butler Winery. Butler had been around since 1983, and is Indiana's fourth oldest winery still in existence (Oliver, Easley, and Huber predate it). From Oliver heading south on IN-37, there is a sign pointing you to Butler. You still have to go down some roads that can be pretty treacherous in adverse conditions.
In our wine journey, Butler was a big question mark. I didn't know quite what to expect from this winery. It's been around for a while, and has three locations, but it doesn't get the attention of other wineries. I have had a few of their wines, and either enjoyed them (as I did when I reviewed their blueberry) or thought they were okay enough (as I did when I reviewed their Indiana White) but without tasting the full flight, everything else was a mystery.
Once there, one is greeted by a simple building. There was plenty of room for plantings, but given the risk of frost, not too much had been done, but the preparations were clear. There is patio on one side complete with tables that overlooks a pond. We wondered if the pond was for function in irrigation as well as form, but it was explained to us it was not. However, even the small size of the pond does provide a slight lake effect in giving the nearby vines a few degrees of warmth on cold winter days. Sometimes, two degrees is the line between harvest and nothing.
Upon entering the unpretentious and immaculate tasting room, we were greeted by co-owner Susie Butler. There was bottling going on in the back, as evidenced by the distant clatter of bottles, but we were the only customers there for almost the entire visit, so we were able to engage her in conversation. She was matter of fact in a great way. She answered all of our questions and seemed delighted to share her pride of the winery and the wines.
Every wine was given a great introduction, and a wonderful job was done by Susie. I am going to use the term unpretentious again, but it seems to fit this winery to a tee.
White Select ($11.95) A dry Cayuga fermented in stainless steel. Surprisingly sharp, but nothing that would make me forgive my aversion to this grape.
Chardonel 2005 ($13.95) One of the better Indiana Chardonels. No residual sugar. Oak Barrel fermentation, but one does not feel like there are splinters in one's mouth. A nice Indiana alternative to Chardonnay.
2005 Vineyard Chambourcin ($15.95) Oak aged for 6 months. Nice earthy aroma and a taste that is great for those who don't normally like red wines.
Black Currant ($12.95) I don't recall any other Indiana wineries making this wine, but they should if they can make it as well as Butler. One of the best Indiana fruit wines. Textured and bold, with just enough tartness.
2007 Vineyard Late Harvest Vignoles ($14.95) Above average dessert wine, though we would come to prefer others on our trip.
The thing we noticed about Butler was their consistency. All the wines were good, and there were several standouts. Having come into the winery with minimal expectations, we left very impressed. KeeKee went so far as to call it one of the two hidden gems of the trip (more on the second one later).
If you are going to make a trip to Oliver or one of the other nearby wineries, I suggest you make time for the Butler family.