Madison Life and Times Spring 2016 - Page 34

WINE FINE CALIFORNIA GRAPES MAKE FINE HOOSIER WINE Oliver winemaker Dennis Dunham, left, and Bill Oliver in a tasting room. Oliver Pinot Noir derived from fabled West Coast fruit O liver Winery in Bloomington might be known as one of the country’s biggest producers of sweet wines. But Oliver’s recent Pinot Noir project provides proof that winemaking skill is not limited to the United States’ West Coast. Three-hundred cases of a $45 Pinot Noir is just a smidgen of the Bloomington winery’s annual production. Oliver produced about 320,000 cases of wine in 2015. But for Bill Oliver and winemaker Dennis Dunham, the Pinot project has shown what Oliver Winery can do with world-class fruit. “We have the broadest range of business in our fan base,” Oliver explained. “Our bread and butter is sweeter wines. Those wines keep 34 MADISON Howard Hewitt the lights on, and that’s the reality of the world we live in. “This project is about making wine for that part of our customer base who appreciates Pinot. It’s also an ability factor; it kind of shines a light on everything else we do. And, we like to drink it.” Oliver Pinot Noir is made of grapes from the much-respected Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley of California’s Central Coast. While the Oliver $45 price point might raise eyebrows in Indiana, a Bien Nacido wine in California consistently brings a much higher price. How special is Bien Nacido? Price point explains much when it comes to wine grapes. Generally, good fruit can be purchased from the better California vineyards for $1,200$2,000 a ton. At the other end of the spectrum is Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which commands a king’s ransom of $6,000-$10,000 a ton. The extreme is the famous To Kalon vineyard, of Robert Mondavi fame, which commands in the neighborhood of $20,000 a ton