sealPurdue News

July 2001

Indy International Wine Competition
continues to expand

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The art of wine tasting is trying to figure out the message hidden in the bottle, or it could be because wine is a food, a taste for it is very personal and tends to change over time. However you look at it, judging wine by taste is quickly becoming an internationally renowned event in Indianapolis.

Commercial and amateur winemakers will pit their wines against some of the best in the world during the July 26-28 Indianapolis International Wine Competition at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the Farm Bureau Building. The Indiana Wine and Grape Council, based at Purdue University, helps oversee the contest.

"The competition has grown tremendously. Last year there were more than 2,500 entries from 12 different countries," said Sally Linton, the council's marketing director.

This year's competition has added sparkling and dessert wine categories, making a total of more than 70 contest categories.

The competition is the third largest in America on the basis of total entries. Indiana wines compete side-by-side with some of the best wines France, Australia and California have to offer.

The wines are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals by a panel of five judges. There are 10 panels of judges, which taste around 120 different wines per day. This year's competition includes such judges as two-time winemaker of the year Daryl Groom and the Chicago Tribune's wine connoisseur Bill Rice.

"The caliber of judges is high, and they take their job very seriously," said Mark Easley, head winemaker of Easley Winery in Indianapolis. This will be Easley's third year as a judge.

"It can become monotonous tasting 120-some wines a day, but the people in charge of putting the competition together do an excellent job of making sure we test a variety of different styles," he said.

With the aid of the judges, the competition helps create opportunities for its entrants.

"The wine competition aids in the marketing for all wines involved," Linton said. "From the Indiana vintner's viewpoint, it proves that even though Indiana is more known for corn and beans, its wines are worthy of competing and beating some of the best wines in the world. The contest also introduces the Midwest market to a variety of little known or unknown foreign wines."

Easley said the biggest benefit for Indiana wineries is the chance to face international competition locally.

"The competition gets the word out and raises awareness in the Midwest of the quality their wines possess," he said.

The top wines, such as grand champion and best commercial red, white, sparkling and dessert wines will be presented trophies sponsored by American Airlines. Other awards include the Governor's Trophy for the winningest Indiana winery, the Lallemand Trophy for the national amateur wine champion, the Fruit Winemaking Quarterly Magazine Trophy for best commercial fruit wine and best amateur fruit wine, the "Pit Cru" Award for best amateur label, and other Indiana-based trophies.

The judging is free and open to the public.

Though the public will not be allowed to sample wines at the competition, they will get their chance at the Taste of Indiana Agriculture wine tasting reception at 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2, in the Farm Bureau Building. The winning wines will be announced at the reception.

Tickets for the reception are $15 and may be purchased from the State Fair office, (317) 927-1482, or at the door. Attendees will be served hors d'oeuvres and receive a wine tasting glass, which may be used to sample wines on display.

Sources: Sally Linton, (765) 496-3842,

Mark Easley, (317) 636-4516

Writer: Barney Haney, (765) 494-8402,

Purdue Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, Ag News Coordinator,;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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