Hoosier Wineaux: Peace Water Winery brings California vibes to Indiana

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By: Frank Piaskowy

Frank Piaskowy/Hoosier Wineaux

As an avid football fan, I sometimes wonder “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to put together my own NFL team. Then, “Imagine” that team winning a championship in their first year of competition.

As improbable as that might sound, that is exactly what the Scott and Laura Burton family have accomplished in the wine industry with Peace Water Winery. The winery has been fully operational for one year this month and took home the “Red Wine of the Year” trophy at this year’s INDY International Wine Competition.

Curiosity brought me to the tasting room in the downstate Carmel Arts & Design District last Sunday. As I walked in, I couldn’t help but feel “Good Vibrations.” The interior is retro sixties California complete with peace symbols, period furnishings in the conversation lounge and kitschy décor throughout.

Other unique aspects of the winery include:

  • Screen printed bottle labeling is designed by family members. Even the foil caps pay tribute to peace, love and family. I particularly appreciated the user-friendly back labels.
  • There is an outdoor seating area to enjoy the winery’s BYOF (bring your own food) policy while sipping their wine.
  • Local wine club members can have their wine delivered in a 1966 “hippie” Volkswagen bus affectionately named “Reggie.”
  • 50 percent of all profits are donated to charity. With every bottle purchased, you are given a vote to designate your choice among charities designated by each of the family’s eight children. Votes determine profit shares when funds are distributed.

There is an obvious reason for the west coast influence since many ties have been forged in the Golden State. Grapes are sourced exclusively from seven prized vineyards located in Napa and Sonoma counties. While Peace Water doesn’t own the land, they do have contract ownership of the vines and fruit.

After harvest, grapes are processed and bottled at a facility in Calistoga, Calif. The winemaker is Brian Brakesman who honed his skills in places like Duckhorn and his family’s Summit Lake Winery, located in the Howell Mountain district.

There are currently 11 wines available, each with a limited 200 to 300 case production. A $10 fee is charged for a choice of five wines to taste.

Here are a few I would suggest: 

  • 2013 Wishful White: A blend of 52 percent viognier and 48 percent chardonnay that gives flavors of white peach and apples with a hint on spice in a nicely textured mouth feel — $19. 
  • 2012 Inspire: A deeper hue rose made using the saignee method. It is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, sangiovese and zinfandel resulting in a concentrated, fruity wine that is bright to the front palate — $21. 
  • 2012 Grateful Red: A blend of cabernet franc and malbec that has great balance of complex dark fruit, acidity and tannins with a lingering finish. This is the award winner at the INDY — $30.
  • 2012 Zen: A silky, medium-bodied zinfandel with restrained notes of blackberry and black pepper. The grapes are from vines over 40 years old — $32.
  • 2012 Passion: A cabernet sauvignon which is rich and fruit-forward revealing black currant and plum with a hint of spice. Tannins are very approachable and well integrated. This is the winery’s best-seller — $32.

“God Only Knows” Peace Water Winery creates a groovy and “Fun, Fun, Fun” experience while promoting the mantra of “one bottle does a world of good.” As a baby boomer and wine enthusiast, I don’t hesitate to say “Give Peace a Chance.”

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