Running Vines: Winemakers & Community Supporters
My husband and I decided to check out Running Vines Winery on a random Wednesday afternoon. We soon learned that we made a smart choice. I don’t know how in the world I was missing out on this gem in my backyard!
Located in downtown Chesterton, Running Vines is one of many wineries in Indiana. There are actually close to 100 wineries in the Hoosier state. I had no idea Indiana had so many wineries!
Upon entering the winery we were greeted by some seriously delightful smells permeating from Albanos Pasta Shop which shares the space. Why does fresh roasted garlic smell so good!!??!!!
A winery with access to fresh made pasta; I'm never leaving! This spot is genius. Internally, I was making plans for my new relationship with Running Vines...Let’s see Girl’s Nights, Date Nights; I need to bring my mama here, my out of town visitors, and all of my friends!
Cathy, who was working the tasting room, attended to us. Impressed with her vast knowledge of wine, I asked her way too many questions. We learned a great deal as she really helped us to appreciate what we were tasting. We later discovered that she was a chemist, which made a lot of sense.
It was a pleasant afternoon of escape with tastings and good conversation. Both my husband and I agreed that we liked the wine.
I knew that I wanted to learn more about this hidden gem so I subsequently reached out to owner Nicole Caylor to get all of the details. Upon seeing her, I realized that we’d met years ago! Over a glass of wine, she shared the history of the winery.
It was during a 2014 visit to her cousin Walter’s winery when she decided to finally take him up on his offer to start a winery together.
She’d desired a career change along with her own business and felt it was the right time.
The name Running Vines is a fun play on words incorporating the family’s passion for running with their business. Vines is two-fold. It encompasses the grapevine of course but also the desire to be involved and give back to the community.
They have certainly followed through on their passion for community involvement by hosting numerous give-back events as well as sponsoring and donating to many community charities.
The winery offers a nice selection of whites, reds, and blends. I'm a red wine girl and I love their Merlot, OH YES! When I occasionally want white, their Pinot Gris is my go too; it’s a bit of a drier white. They have race-inspired names for their blends. Sprint, Half-Marathon, Marathon, and Triathlon. My favorite of the blends would have to be the sprint: it tastes like candy.
All of the wine production takes place in the basement with grapes sourced from California, New York, Chile, and Argentina. The grapes arrive in crushed format and the fermentation, racking, and blending are done on site. There's a full-time winemaker, Emily Kennedy, that oversees all of the production at the Chesterton location.
Last year just under 2,500 gallons of wine were produced. This year’s production goal is 5,000 gallons. Therefore, due to growth, production will eventually be moved to a different location.
Always curious about the wines that winemakers prefer, I asked Nickie the following:
What's your go to wine?
It's all about what I'm experiencing at the moment. If its 90 degrees out and humid, I'm going to tend to want a sweeter, clean, and crisp wine. If it's cold, I'm a dry red girl; every once in a while a dry white.
What do you pair with your meals?
I’ll pair our Gewurztraminer with Thanksgiving meals. It’s a white wine with a light sweetness and more of a dry finish. It pleases sweet drinkers as well as dry drinkers, and it won’t overpower the flavors of the Thanksgiving meal.
If I’m making spaghetti and meatballs, I’ll go for a dry red. Depending on the palate, if a person prefers a lighter red I’d direct them to Pinot Noir. If they’re like me and want something heavier with a bit more body to it, I’d select for them a Merlot or Syrah.
What separates your winery from others?
Every winery is different. The wine's flavors depend on the location of sourced grapes. For example, a Cabernet Sauvignon made with a Chilean grape will taste different than a Cabernet Sauvignon made with a Californian grape.
The winemaker's style is also a factor. All of our wines are Italian in style; more fruit forward, with a good body and dryness to them. We’re a young winery, so you’re not going to get the really heavy body from any of our wines yet, however, over time, as our wines age, you’ll see a heavier, fuller-bodied wine from us.
In addition to supplying wine, Nickie creates experiences for guests to enjoy. She hosts free monthly fun runs where participants meet at the winery, go for a run, and afterward return to the winery for a glass of their favorite wine. She also hosts a monthly book club at the winery. Nothing like discussing a good book over wine and chocolate! Game nights, paint and sips, karaoke, and family nights are some of the other monthly activities. It's an added bonus to have Albanos Pasta Shop within the same space. We've been able to enjoy the best of both worlds. You can order a glass of wine to go with your meal while dining at the pasta shop or you can enjoy a tasting while waiting for your table at the restaurant.
Live music is featured every Saturday night.
Nicki describes the environment as positive, happy, and fun. A place where everyone enjoys their job. “We want our customers to feel welcome and enjoy their experience. I’m an Italian girl, and everyone’s my family; I want everyone who walks through the door to feel like they’re part of my family;I want to establish relationships with them. I believe that we have something special here.”
I indeed feel the love! Be sure to drop-in on Running Vines to experience it yourself.
Tastings are $6 for 6…add an extra $2 if you want to keep the souvenir tasting glass.
Tell me you favorite wine in the comments.