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July 8, 2002

Indy International wine contest draws experts to the Midwest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The second largest wine competition in the United States isn't held on either coast – it's right in the nation's heartland in the middle of corn country.

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The Indy International Wine Competition was the nation's second largest contest in 2001, with nearly 2,800 entries. The number of entries is expected to near 3,000 for this year's taste-off July 25-27 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

In order to accommodate the growing competition, the contest site has been moved to the Exposition Hall.

"Because we ask competitors to send us multiple bottles of the wines they enter, we need a judging site that can hold nearly 9,000 wine bottles," said Sally Linton of the Indiana Wine Grape Council, located at Purdue University.

In addition to large numbers, Indy International attracts a wide variety of vintners. Commercial winemakers from every major wine-producing region of the world enter the competition. Last year's entries came from 15 different countries.

The competition also boasts the largest amateur winemaking contest in the United States.

"Last year we had 608 amateur wines entered, featuring a variety of homemade wines made of everything from apples to zucchini," said competition coordinator Ellen Harkness, who is a wine technologist at Purdue.

Judges fill out comment cards on each of the amateur wines, complete with suggestions for how the hobbyist vintners might improve their product.

Fifty-five judges from across the country will sample and pass judgment on 120 wines per day. Each wine passes through a panel of five qualified experts, including wine-industry writers, winemakers and wine connoisseurs, who award gold, silver and bronze medals based on the taste, look and aroma of each entry. The judges also may decide to give a wine no medal.

"If all five judges on the panel determine that a wine is outstanding, it receives a concordance gold medal," Harkness said. "Receiving a concordance gold is rare, only 55 to 60 wines in the entire competition receive this distinction."

Linton said that while Indiana is best known for its corn and soybeans, the Hoosier state also is becoming known as wine country. "Indiana is now home to 27 wineries, and several more are in development," she said.

Indiana wines also compete well against some of the world's finest vintages. "Indiana winemakers won five of the concordance gold medals last year," Linton said.

Contest results will be posted at the new Indy International Web site. The Indy International is in its 10th year and is sponsored by the Indiana State Fair and coordinated by the Indiana Wine Grape Council at Purdue.

The judging is open for public viewing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 25-26 and from 10 a.m. to noon on July 27 when the concordance gold wines compete for best of show honors. There is no charge to watch the judging.

Indiana's award winning wines will be featured along with foods representing a dozen Indiana commodity groups at A Taste of Indiana Agriculture on Aug. 1 at the State Fairgrounds in the Farm Bureau Building. The event runs from 6-9 p.m. The top award winners from the competition are announced at the reception. Tickets cost $15 and are available through Ticketmaster, by calling the State Fair box office at (317) 927-1482 or at the door. Those attending must be 21 years of age or older.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722; forbes@purdue.edu

Sources: Sally Linton, (765) 496-3842; lintons@purdue.edu

Ellen Harkness, (765) 494-6704; harkness@foodsci.purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

PHOTO CAPTION:
The Indy International Wine Competition has grown each year since 1992 and is moving this summer to the Exhibition Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Wines from around the world surround "pit crue" volunteer Catherine Campbell during the 2000 contest. The competition, the second largest in the country, should attract nearly 3,000 entries this year. (Purdue Agricultural Communications Service photo by Tom Campbell)

A publication-quality photograph is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/linton.winecontest.jpeg.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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