Most people think America’s commercial winemaking started somewhere in California, or maybe somewhere on the East Coast. Nope, it started right here in Indiana, in little Switzerland County, on the banks of the Ohio River.
In fact, this year is the 200th anniversary of our winemaking history, and the Swiss Wine Festival is celebrating this milestone, as well as saluting Switzerland County’s cultural heritage. The festival takes place from Thursday, August 27 through Sunday, August 30, 2009 at Paul Ogle Riverfront Park in Vevay, IN.
Their website says,
From area wines, twirling batons to culinary delights sizzling on grills, the Swiss Wine Festival each year celebrates, as well as salutes, the cultural heritage of Switzerland County, Indiana. Now in its 38th year, the four-day event, held on Vevay’s riverfront, uniquely blends tradition and fun. From opening day on Thursday to closing time Sunday evening, the Swiss Wine Festival caters to all ages and interests. Arousing polka music to toe-tapping country emanate from the three entertainment stages. Several of the youth-oriented contests sport colorful Swiss dress, ranging from intricate embroidered aprons to tied kneeknockers for lads.
You can even participate in the Grape Stomp, competing against fellow purple-footers, to see who can stomp the most grapes and produce the most juice.
I was invited to participate in the celebrity version of the grape stomp, and will be stomping against other media types from Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Louisville. And while I would love to win the $1,000 grand prize for my chosen charity, I’m almost as equally concerned that someone from Indianapolis wins this thing.
We’re stomping for state pride, after all. As small as it is, Switzerland County is Indiana’s county. It’s our county, our festival, our place in winemaking history. We need a Hoosier to bring home the bacon grapeskins on this one. So if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “you know, I’d love to watch a bunch of wine-stained people stomp on defenseless, bite-sized fruit,” — and who hasn’t? — the Swiss Wine Festival is the place to be.