A featured farmer every day at the fair was a big hit last year, so the Featured Farmers presented by Dow AgroSciences is back again this year. Consumers have had the chance to talk about cows and pigs, corn and soybeans, pumpkins and Christmas trees and much more with those farmers. This week John and Kim Doty talked about their homegrown Indiana products available through French Lick Winery.
“The farm is Martin County and our winery is in Orange County in French Lick, Indiana,” John said. “We’re on one of the highest hills in Martin County with very deep, well drained soils, and that’s what you need for growing grapes.”
The winery opened in 1995 after 3-5 years of planning, and they planted their first grapes in 1998. Like many farmers in southwest Indiana the grape crop has had too much rain this summer.
“Very challenging,” he said, “it’s been too wet. We don’t mind a little moisture earlier in the season, but this time of the year I would like for it to be dry so that the grapes can ripen without rotting. We have a lot of fungal problems when it’s this wet.”
More than forty French Lick Winery selections are offered and several sweet wines are available at retailers statewide. Kim says they feature state bottled wines made from grapes grown in their vineyard.
“We grow them, we process them, we bottle them and then we sell them. They never leave our facility and we have six or eight of those and we do really well with them. Of course we have Traminette, which is Indiana’s signature grape. We do really nice Chambourcin, a dry red, and we grow a grape called Norton, which we make three different wines out of, a dry red, a rose, and a fortified sweet wine called Norton Port.
During the entire run of the state fair the featured farmers are escorted to various fair events by Kenda Resler Friend of Dow AgroSciences, who told HAT interactions between farmers and consumers have been great.
“As we all know the weather has been pretty tough out here at the fair but it certainly hasn’t dampened the spirits of fairgoers,” she said. “We have had wonderful conversations with farmers. Every day at the Glass Barn where we’re hanging out with our soybean friends, farmers are getting asked questions like what time do you get up? Why don’t you raise animals? How does this work, how does that work? So we’ve had some really, really good candid discussions with people, and they love the farmers.”
Featured farmers who will close out the fair are The Browns Inc, Starke County, Friday, Hammelman Farm, Knox County, Saturday, and Bishop Farms, Kosciusko County, Sunday.