SOUTHERN INDIANA - Let's start this story in Switzerland. There's a bitter taste in my mouth, but I don't mind it, the show must go on. On September 27, 2019, I was fired from White River State Park, but I don't mind it, I've talked about it before, it's an important mark upon this canvas. This was my first job out of college, it was great, but I needed more freedom. I keep the termination letter on my fridge, it makes me smile.
Indiana is beautiful, T.C. Steele painted what he saw, I've talked about it before.
I'm here. It's a great place to grow.
It's a better place to hide.
Our map is filled with hidden history, it's been (fermenting), waiting to be appreciated. I don't mind slapping the bag, getting drunk on this history, and painting newer pictures of older times. What do you see?
Visit Indiana - When people think of the history of wine making in America, they think it must have originated in California, or maybe out east. Actually, the first commercial wine making operation was in Vevay, Indiana, in Switzerland County.
On September 27, 1998, my sister was born. So on that same day in 2019, my parents had planned on making their way to Bloomington to celebrate my sister and her 21st birthday. It was a Friday, that's a great day for a 21st birthday. I wanted to be there during the day, because I didn't want to be that older brother that crashes the fun at the "real party".
The Swiss were among the first groups of Europeans to arrive to what be later be called Indiana. However, the French beat them here, but the Swiss were in no rush. You can't be if you're growing wine.
Switzerland had gone through some change, and many were ready to head for America. A few made their way to Indiana, they settled along the Ohio River. Check out a page from the following book, Along the Ohio River, it describes a small river town in southeastern Indiana: "The town was founded by immigrants from Vevay, Switzerland, and they created the first winery in the United States."
Just as the European country of Switzerland has her own Vevay, so does the Indiana county of Switzerland. The latter named in honor of the former.
Switzerland County, Indiana
Chicago Tribune - John James Dufour, a Swiss immigrant, was sent to the New World to find a good place in which he and other settlers could grow grapes and produce wine. They found that place along the banks of the Ohio in Vevay (pronounced VEE-vee). The town became famous for its wines. Bottles from Dufour's vineyard were served by Thomas Jefferson to guests at the White House.
It's always nice when your family supports you and your "business decisions", because I'm on a slightly untraditional path.
Oliver Winery (Bloomington, Indiana)- September 27, 2019
Musée de Venoge - In 1801, seventeen members of Dufour’s extended family joined him at their First Vineyard on the Kentucky River southwest of Lexington. The vineyard was only partly successful and by 1802 most had moved on to the already planned Second Vineyard on the Ohio River. The second Vineyard often labeled “Swiss Vineyards” or “New Switzerland” on maps of the period was established in Indiana Territory just east of the Greenville Treaty Line in what was to become Switzerland County. By an 1802 Act of Congress, 2500 acres were sold to Dufour on extended credit; 1200 acres were added later.
Things were looking good for the Dufour family and their commercial winemaking industry. By 1813 the town of Vevay was platted, the following year, 1814, the town would take on the role as seat of the newly formed Switzerland County.
The Old Ferry House was one of may homes built by Dufour. Dufour and his brother laid out the town of Vevay and named it for their home in Switzerland. The house served as an inn from 1833 to 1848, and then was sold. Dufour died in 1850. (Indiana History)
Indiana teaches me a lot, Dufour felt the same way, in 1826, before the end of Indiana's wine era he published, "The American Vine-Dressers Guide: Being A Treatise on the Cultivation of the Vine Adapted to the Soil and the Climate of the United States".
Like other European Settlers, the wine industry headed west. As transportation rode off into future, Vevay was left stuck in the mud, reliant on the steamboats of yesteryear to stimulate growth in their community. Present day, while wine is made in all 50 states, California is estimated to be responsible for 90% of this nation's wine production.
Long story short, I left work and went with my parents down to one of Indiana's growing vineyards, Oliver Winery & Vineyards in Bloomington. I got to celebrate with my sister, and drink wine in wine country. As her 22nd birthday approaches, I hope she learns to enjoy the bittersweet taste of the ebbs and flows of reality.
We paint on our own canvas, but we can only paint the things we see. In 1802 the Swiss began to see, and taste, wine being produced here in Indiana, and now.... after all the world has gone through, look who's here to drink it.
I'm here. It's a great place to grow.
I've talked about it before.
Despite how my day started on the 27th, this how it ended.
And I have my sister to thank.