French Lick Winery and Spirits of French Lick
Just off US Highway 56, French Lick Winery is tucked away in an old piano factory. From the outside it doesn’t look like a typical winery. But once you’re inside, the staff is warm and welcoming and the wines are delicious. The winery was founded by the Doty family in 1995 and continues to be family-owned. Some of the grapes used in their wines are grown about 20 miles west of the winery on land the family has owned for more than 100 years.
While many of their popular, sweeter wines are distributed around Indiana, a select few are available direct from the winery and can be purchased in person or through online ordering (keep in mind if you order wine online you need to have a valid ID on file).
Many of their wines have won numerous awards, including the Cabernet Franc with its Double Gold, Best of Class and Indiana Wine of the Year at the Indy International Wine Competition. At the same competition, their Foch and Noiret won Best of Class, and one of their most popular summer wines, Rhuby Razz, a refreshingly balanced mix of rhubarb and raspberry, won Double Gold.
One of the favorites is their Cherry Pie wine, which took home Bronze at the Indy International Wine Competition. It tastes exactly like cherry pie in a bottle. Marketing Manager Laura Gazarian even brought a bottle of it as an easy dessert (instead of a cherry pie) for a family dinner. “Who wants to make a crust when you can pop a cork?” she says.
The winery continues to do well, but why stop at wine? In October 2016, the Doty family opened up a distillery, Spirits of French Lick, with the motto “Respect the grain.” And Master Distiller Alan Bishop (who doesn’t like the term “master,” or "craft" for that matter) knows the grain well. He’s the owner-operator of Bishop’s Homegrown/Face of the Earth seed company and has extensive knowledge on how to run a distillery from his days at a Louisville distillery. He created a special kind of corn to use in distilling the spirits and says the terroir is as important to the grains used in the spirits as it is in growing grapes for wine.
What sets Spirits of French Lick apart is Bishop’s eagerness to experiment. Spirits of French Lick is the only distillery in Indiana that produces aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian spirit. According to Bishop, it’s one of the oldest potable spirits and was once used in toasts to celebrate successful business deals. They’ve also got Blackberry Eau-de-Vie, a summery blackberry liqueur and White Bourbon Whisky that’s clear and has hints of butterscotch and vanilla.
What’s next? They’re working on opening a cocktail bar with a unique menu using the spirits distilled on-site. And of course, they’re still experimenting, daily. For the summer, the winery is hosting Sangria Sundays and on the second Sunday of June, July and August, they’ll have live music and sangria made specifically for the event.
To visit French Lick Winery or Spirits of French Lick follow your wine glasses to 8145 W. Sinclair St., West Baden Springs, or check them out online at FrenchLickWinery.com.