Localizing the Winery

When is a winery more than a winery? When it contributes to revitalizing a rural community, putting the local economy at the forefront of its mission. Owen Valley Winery, which I discovered on assignment for Farm Indiana, is just such a place.

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Here’s a look at the piece I wrote for this month’s issue of Farm Indiana.

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Tony Leaderbrand (pictured above), who told me the whole story of the family-owned business’s evolution. Aside from their commitment to showcasing Owen County’s locally grown and made products, the winery is unique in another respect. It is the first Midwestern winery to run on solar power.

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A grant from the Renewable Energy for America Program helped pay for the solar panels that now produce a large portion of the winery’s energy needs.

Locally grown persimmons are among the fruits used in Owen Valley Winery’s products. I was moved by stories of people bringing their excess fruit in shoeboxes and buckets every fall to sell to the winery. Tony made me see that winemaking is truly a local ag-based endeavor. (Due to demand for dry wine, they also use some California-grown grapes as well.)

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Photo by groceris, via PhotoDune

Tony told me all about the repurposed items that went into construction of the tasting room and production facility. In fact, the second tasting room is kind of an upcycling project in itself: It’s located in the renovated Tivoli Theatre, a historic building in Spencer, IN.

On a personal note, Tony talked about how eating produce from local farms is a winner both in terms of health benefits and reduced packaging. Not to mention the benefits of keeping dollars circulating in the local community.

“I think there’s such a need for us all to come full circle on purchasing,” he said. “We have to break these old habits of going to these superstores. You’ve got to know where everything you buy comes from.”

You can read the full article here (do a search on Owen Valley Winery to jump to the piece.)

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