Friday, April 19, 2013

Briali Vineyards: Indiana Winery Visit

Since we got word that Briali Vineyard, 102 W. State Rd 120 in Fremont opened its doors, we’ve been wanting to pay a visit to this new Indiana winery. We finally got our chance when we spent a day hiking (and working up a thirst) at Pokagon State Park.

This was a spur of the moment visit and I didn’t have the address for Briali. After spending frustrating minutes in which my smart phone was dumb, we decided we’d pay a visit to a different nearby winery instead.

As we headed in that general direction, we saw a sign proclaiming Briali Vineyards and I swung the car into a left turn.

Briali is the creation of husband and wife team Brian and Alicia Moeller. One of the unique features is that it is co-located with a golf course. During our visit we found two golfers recapping their day while sipping Briali Golden Tram – a deliciously refreshing blend of Traminette and Golden Muscat.

The tasting room is appealingly decorated with a central double-sided bar. You get a good view of the barrel room and the Briali reds, which Brian likes to age for 12 to 18 months. The Traminette, Golden Muscat and Noiret are estate grown. As with most new wineries, the bulk of grapes have to come from somewhere else while the vineyard grows – in this case, Clarksburg, California.

Brian attended college in Santa Rosa, California, and lived in the Russian River Valley, a famous wine producing region. He passed the vineyards of Korbel and admired their beauty. Now back in Indiana he is recreating his own memories of California at Briali Vineyards with an emphasis on environmentally sustainable wines.

Among Briali’s current offerings are Cab Franc, Noiret, Petit Verdot, Golden Tram, and Tempranillo. The reds are tasty and dry and the Golden Tram is just what the doctor ordered for a hot summer day. My favorite red was the Petit Verdot and I purchased a bottle.

We also had the chance to sample a couple unreleased wines. The Malbec is continuing to age, but we enjoyed a nice barrel sample. Our taste buds perked up with a sampling of Geisenheim. This is a rare off-the-wall white which I sampled only once before (in Pennsylvania) and that wine came from the same vineyard as this. It is refreshing with a slight crispness – but distinct from Riesling or Chardonnay. We were able to buy a bottle, but the official labels had not yet arrived.

Exciting times are ahead as Brian will be planting Riesling and Albarino vines this spring in a move he concedes is a “crap shoot.” He has a micropocket in his vineyard where the temperature is a couple of degrees warmer and he hopes that will help the grapes survive the chills of winter. If so, producing an estate-grown Albarino in Indiana will be a remarkable achievement.

The Briali wines are tasty and affordable, running from $10 to $22 a bottle. The people are cool too! You’ve got to love a winemaker with an appreciation for the String Cheese Incident. The winery is also featuring special music events, which would be the perfect time to pay a visit to one of the newest additions to the regional wine scene.

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