Winery blends quality, eco-friendly practices

10/29/2012 6:45 AM
By Associated Press

FREMONT, Ind. (AP) — An environmentally friendly winery is opening in Steuben County this week.

Briali Vineyards and Winery is part of Country Meadows Golf Resort, 102 W. S.R. 120. Exotic wooden bars, natural cork wallpaper and rows of glistening wine glasses adorn the tasting room on the bottom floor of the clubhouse. In the adjoining room are stainless steel and oak barrels holding the nectar of Steuben County vines.

Briali Winery will open Thursday and will offer wine tasting and tours Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Winery owners Brian and Alicia Moeller told The Herald Republican (http://bit.ly/VXTiv5 ) their goal is to provide economically viable and ecologically sound wines without sacrificing quality. Historically, they said, eco-friendly grape growing yielded expensive wines, or substandard wines.

The Moellers have been growing grapes for seven years at their rural Fremont home, the golf course — which is owned by Brian's family — and other locations. The Moellers have planted and nurtured 11 varieties of grapevines using biodynamic techniques. Their success inspired them to take it full circle, and embrace the challenge of using eco-friendly practices in turning their grapes into wine.

Though more labor-intensive, they endorse the philosophy that "wine is made on the vine."

Part of the Moellers' belief is inspired by their experience living in northern California for five years, where both attended College of the Redwoods. Alicia's focus was environmental studies. She said she noticed the population there as a whole was more environmentally aware, and that people followed the organic mindset in their choices for food, personal care and lifestyle. California vineyards impressed the Moellers with their lack of synthetic sprays, companion planting with wildflowers and biodynamic practices.

"It just made more sense," said Alicia.

Briali's wine portfolio offers a diverse selection — half sweet and half dry. Traditional dry reds will lead their list, and will include Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and an estate-grown Noiret.

Brian said the Cabernet Franc is his favorite, made from grapes grown in Steuben County and California. He said raising the grape has its challenges. "And, when it comes out to be a really good wine on its own, you've got to be proud of it," he said. Often, the Cabernet Franc must be mixed with other varieties for a pleasing flavor.

White wine offerings will include a sweet Niagara, an Indiana-grown apple wine called "Forbidden" and an estate-grown Traminette and Golden Muscat blend called "Golden Tram."

On the fun side, Briali will have "Dragon's Red," a sweet, jammy red table wine and "Bada Bing," a sweet cherry wine aged in bourbon barrels.

Bottles are priced from $10 to $22.

While starting with around a dozen wines, the Moellers said they will soon be adding to their list. Upcoming releases include Delaware and two varieties of Nouveau wines.

In the spring, the winery plans to add an outdoor seating area and host events.

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Information from: Herald Republican, http://www.heraldrepublicanonline.com/


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