There are few wineries in Indiana with deep ties to California winemaking, but Coal Creek Cellars in Crawfordsville has managed to bottle those top-flight tastes, especially in red.
Coal Creek Cellars
There are few wineries in Indiana with deep ties to California winemaking, but Coal Creek Cellars has managed to bottle those top-flight tastes, especially in red. Located in rural Crawfordsville, Coal Creek Cellars operates out of a hundred-year-old red barn — an iconic sight in Indiana, but one not usually associated with fine wines and Hoosier hospitality.
Ron Wojtaszek and Chiral Waterman
Visitors to Coal Creek Cellars will experience both here, and owners/vintners Ron Wojtaszek and Chiral Waterman have worked hard to greet visitors in a welcoming atmosphere while serving up some amazing wines in this historic setting. But neither Ron nor Chiral would have dreamed of establishing a California connection in Indiana.
“My grandmother owned a vineyard in Fresno, California, when I was a little girl,” Chiral noted. “I used to spend summers and falls working among the vines. Later, I told my grandmother that I would never work on a farm again.”
“Never say ‘never’,” her grandmother told her. Ron, who grew up learning the winemaking art in California, agreed. “When we first saw this farm in Indiana and realized how awesome the people were here, we knew we could have fun making wine.”
And fun is what guests will have when they visit this laid-back winery. Chiral, an artist herself, has managed to create a local artists’ showcase, complete with handmade wine accessories, stained glass, jewelry, canvases and more. A large tasting bar and a quaint dining area offer guests a place to eat (bring your own picnic!) and enjoy live music on Saturday nights. And in the cooler months, folks will enjoy sitting by the cozy fireplace.
“We’ve tried to combine a California winemaking philosophy, especially in dry reds, with the slower pace of Indiana and the warm people here,” Ron said. “But we also make some fine Indiana hybrids, such as Chardonel and Cayuga White.”
Indeed, sitting on the back deck at Coal Creek Cellars is a fine way to unwind, and guests are certain to enjoy the countrified atmosphere replete with bird feeders and conversation. Wine lovers looking for more robust reds in state cannot go wrong with the Coal Creek Norton, Harmony or Duet — the latter two blends featuring the dark, inky notes of their Petite Sirah.
“We’re preserving history of this farm,” Ron pointed out. “It was first owned by John and Mary Stout, and we’ve incorporated windows from the old Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County into the barn. I suppose we’ve combined California winemaking with Hoosier hospitality.”
Coal Creek Cellars is a weekend destination (Saturday or Sunday) and visitors can round out their experience to this winery by visiting some of those historical sites in Crawfordsville, including the Lew Wallace Museum and Wabash College. Just minutes south of Interstate 74, Coal Creek Cellars is easy to find … just watch for the bright red barn and the white picket fence. But visitors should make sure they save time to taste the wines. Coal Creek Cellars is a great place to be.
Red Wine Favorites
- Harmony — blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre and Petite Sirah
- Duet — blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah
White Wine Favorites
- Chardonel — dry white with a crisp taste
- Chardonnay — California dry white table wine
Photos courtesy: Todd & Becky Outcalt.