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Butler Winery and Vineyards
Kathy Sullivan

Butler Winery and VineyardsSummary: Butler Winery & Vineyards is a member of the the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail. Jim and Susan Butler, winery and vineyard owners, are enthusiastic about producing Indiana wines with Indiana grown grapes. In addition, visitors will also find a good selection of fruit wines. Jim is also the author of “Indiana Wine: A History.”

Butler Winery and VineyardsJim and Susan Butler are the owners, winemakers and winegrowers of Butler Winery & Vineyards. John was originally from Ohio and Susan from Indiana. They attended Indiana University and later moved to Minnesota. They returned to Indiana and moved to Bloomington. For a time, Jim worked at Oliver Winery & Vineyards. In 1983, Jim opened a facility in Bloomington. Now Butler Winery is the fourth oldest winery in Indiana.

Butler Winery Tasting Room

The Butler Winery & Vineyard tasting room is located close to the vineyards. A delightful, gated garden of roses, petunias and black-eyed susans with a fountain adds to the ambiance of a relaxing summer visit to the winery. Inside, the tasting room offers a long wood tasting counter. On the wall, high above the tasting counter are colorful paintings of vineyards.

Butler Winery and Vineyards

The Butler Vineyards

Butler Winery and VineyardsButler winery was established in downtown Bloomington in 1983. In 1991, Jim and Susan purchased the current property and began planting grapevines in 1992. The property now has six acres of grapes that are meticulously kept and provide lovely, picturesque views surrounding the winery and tasting room. The vineyard is situated at 900 feet elevation. The grapevines are planted in what Jim described as thinner soils with hardpan. Currently grape varieties in the vineyards include: Chardonel, Vidal Blanc, Vignoles, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Norton. Among the many viticulture techniques, Jim uses vertical shoot trellising and leaf pulling.

The Butlers enjoy growing their own grapes and producing wine. Jim said, “Growing something is a product that you can take from start to finish. You control the product.” They believe that small batches of wines are often better than large production.

In addition to growing their own wine grapes, additional grapes for Butler wines are sourced from within Indiana and New York. The Butlers also produce fruit wines. These fruit wines are made with 100% fruit. The blueberries and black currants are from Indiana. In the future, visitors will want to watch for the blueberry port that Jim is considering producing.

The weather in this area can become extremely cold during the winter months. Temperatures can go below 0 degrees. Fortunately, since their vineyards are located at a high elevation, the cold tends to settle in the valleys, thus flowing away from the grapevines.

Butler Winery Wines

Butler Winery and VineyardsChardonel 2015 was barrel fermented in French oak. The wine was a light yellow color. The aroma included notes of citrus and flowers with a hint of vanilla. The taste was predominantly citrus. The finish was crisp and the aftertaste was fruity. Suggested food pairings included chicken and fish. Vignoles 2015 was a pale yellow color with a tropical fruit aroma. The taste was slightly sweet and the wine had a medium body. The finish offered a touch of dryness. This is a food friendly wine. Suggested pairings included salads, salmon and sushi. Vidal Blanc 2015 was a pale yellow color. The aroma of tropical fruits included notes of coconut. The taste included citrus notes. The finish was crisp and fruity. Suggested food pairings included poultry and alfredo pastas.

Chambourcin Rosé 2016 was an orange color with a dark pink hue. The wine offered an aroma of red berry fruit. The taste was of strawberry, red raspberry and citrus. The finish was fruity. This wine is a 3P wine - perfect for the patio, porch or pool.

Butler Winery and VineyardsWe also barrel tasted two of the Butler Winery wines. The winery production area includes many oak barrels aging wines. The Chambourcin 2016 was aging in new French oak. The wine was a dark purple to black color. There were aroma notes of black fruit. The taste had blackberry and black cherry notes and some hints of spices. There were medium tannins. The finish was fruity yielding to spices. The barrel sample of the Chambourcin 2015 was aging in one-year-old oak. The wine was a dark purple color. The aroma was of dark fruits. The taste included black fruit and cherry notes. The finish was fruity and dry. Mild tannins were noticed.

Late Harvest Vignoles 2016 was bottled in a 375 ml blue bottle. The wine was 10% alcohol. The color was a light yellow. The aroma was of fruit including pineapple. The wine was medium-bodied with pineapple notes. The long finish was very pleasant.

Blackberry was a translucent red/purple color. As might be expected, the aroma was of blackberries. The taste was reminiscent of fresh blackberries. The wine was light-bodied. The finish was long.

Jim and Susan are advocates of Indiana grown and Indiana wines. They believe that people, place and product are important. It is helpful to do well with all three. When planning your visit to Butler Winery & Vineyards, try to schedule your time to include one of the tours that are offered on the weekends. Take your time to visit and savor the experience. The patio offers a wonderful space to enjoy a bottle of Butler wine.

In addition to the winery and vineyards, Butler Winery and Vineyards also have tasting rooms in downtown Bloomington and in Chesterton.

Butler Winery & Vineyards
6200 East Robinson Road.
Bloomington, Indiana 47408

GPS: N39º 14.5320’ W086º 26.7923’


Article written June 2017.


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