INDIANAPOLIS - After more than 10 years of trying, Indiana's stature as a major player in the wine industry has taken a giant leap forward.
A grape-growing area in southern Indiana has received a designation that puts it among the major wine growing regions of the world.
The federal government designated 4,800 square miles of southern Indiana grape growing terrain -- known as the Uplands Wine Trail -- as an American Viticultural Area, a designation given to some of the world's greatest wine growing regions.
"Napa valley is the most obvious one, but also Bordeaux, France, Burgundy, France. This puts us on the same level as the big guys," said Dan Adams, with Winzerwald Winery, one of the nine wineries in the Uplands Wine Trail.
The other wineries include Best Vineyards Winery, Brown County Winery, Butler Winery, Carousel Winery, French Lick Winery, Huber Winery, Oliver Winery and Turtle Run Winery.
"We're proving ourselves. We're making quality wines and we're making them as good or better than anyone else anywhere," said Jim Butler, with Butler Winery.
In a state known to the world for its corn, the notion that limestone soil could help produce award-winning wines might seem far-fetched, but it's that soil that gives the grapes produced here a distinctive flavor.
"The people that are the doubters, they say you can't grow good wine grapes in Indiana," said Kathleen Oliver, with Oliver Winery. "Maybe this will show them that there must be something special about those grapes. Then, they'll come taste our wines and hopefully become fans."
The designation is also expected to give a boost to tourism in southern Indiana.