Vintners at work
Craft and cooperation build region's viticulture tradition
The Indiana wine-grape industry rose to being the 10th largest in the United States, despite the challenges produced by corn-based whiskey and bourbon, but the death knell was sounded on Jan. 16, 1920, with the introduction of Prohibition. It took Prohibition’s repeal in 1933 to restart national winemaking in earnest, but the impact was felt in Indiana until the passage of the Small Winery Act of 1971, which allowed wineries to sell directly to the public. Since then, there’s been a slow but steady growth of Indiana wineries.
The first in Northeast Indiana was Satek Winery, located in Fremont.
6208 N. Van Guilder Road, Fremont, IN 46737 • (260) 495-9463
In 1915, Pam Satek’s great-grandfather bought some land on the north end of Lake James for use as an apple orchard. Nearly a century later, Pam and her husband Larry decided to use it to start a vineyard. When they cleared the land in 1992, it had grown wild but, undaunted, the couple planted grape vines. Success followed, and in 1999, the family broke ground for a winery, which opened June 30, 2001. Since then, Satek wines have won medal after medal, and production has grown exponentially.
“Even I who had told Pam early on that it was going to be bigger than we thought, I did not envision it getting quite this size,” Larry said. “It got a little bit out of control.”
Larry’s background as a chemical researcher and college professor certainly helped as the pair crafted their wines. Satek’s 101 Lakes red is extremely popular, and Larry said he’s always looking at new varietals and blends. The growth has meant the winery brings in grapes from other areas of the country, most notably New York and Pennsylvania, but also from other vineyards in Indiana, as all local wineries do.
The Sateks are grateful for the support they’ve received from both customers and from other winemakers.
“I think we do appreciate that we were the ones who opened up the winemaking business in Northeast Indiana,” Pam said. “The wine business as we know it in Indiana is a very supportive business.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by owners of the four other wineries in the region.