For the uninitiated visitor to Indiana, I recommend waiting until late September or early October to see the Hoosier state at its most serene. In the southern part of the state, winding roads will take you through a series of hamlets as well as the occasional metropolis. In the heart of the heartland is a city known for its rich history of academic and athletic achievements. In other parts of Bloomington, however, the visitor might see alongside a divided highway, a vineyard. That vineyard–split by State Road 37 a few miles north of State Road 46, though, is just the beginning.
Oliver Winery has been in operation for, well, I’ll just say a while. This isn’t an article to be published by a reputable outlet any time soon, so I can get away with avoiding research or “work.” Before I met my wife, I’d been to the winery a couple times–once, we even took the 45-minute distillery tour. The gift shop and tasting area are, for lack of a better word, quaint and appealing. Cheeses, breads, snacks, decor, and of course wine aplenty fills the room, and if the newbie were to arrive on a blissful mid-autumn Saturday afternoon, he or she would be greeted by the coziest welcoming committee north of the Ohio. And that’s just the indoors.
I began this brief description planning, however, to describe the gorgeous acreage of the winery’s boundaries. In what my presumptuous mind must ascertain as an architect’s dream, the hilly landscape, flush with various trees and a subtle pond, provide for the visitor a taste of what Thoreau must have sought and loved during his two years away from society.
Several years ago, In the early spring–another extraordinary time to be surrounded by Indiana’s nature offerings–my wife (before we were married) and I stopped at the winery prior to seeing a concert on the square of Bloomington. The sun’s brightness combatted the slight chilled breeze. We wore thin coats. The perimeter of the pond held a smattering of other guests–some families, some friends, and some children–yet the only noise was our own. In a church-like setting, people just understood that nature was at work here and that it ought not be impeded by human sound.
We’d bought some wine, cheese, bread, and crackers and had created an impromptu picnic minus the basket or even a blanket, and the facility offered plastic wine glasses and napkins. We discussed how beautiful a wedding would be down there–there, on the dock–a wedding whose guest list would not top twenty-five. Immediately, I envisioned a single string musician playing in the distance, perhaps along the border of trees to the west of the pond. The entire property, one would assume, would not need to be closed for such a small event since the land rolls eastward for hundreds of yards. Our fictious, spontaneous wedding we were creating did not become our own reality a few years later. But that didn’t matter then or now.
Because that afternoon, during our brief visit, I fell in love.