Tasty rest stop

Ridge Winery Tasting Room
offers guests scenic view of river

By Levi King
Staff Writer

VEVAY, Ind. – Traci and Greg Pavy toured the tasting rooms of New York state’s wineries a few years ago and decided to bring the experience home. As the Pavys designed their new house, they included plans for a special area where they could host their own tastings.

Traci and Greg Pavy

Photo by Penny Humphrey

Traci and Greg Pavy
greet visitors at their Vevay home.

Mary Jane Demaree, president of the Ridge Winery and Traci Pavy’s aunt, explained the origin of the new tasting room. “Traci and Greg went to the Finger Lakes and came back with the fever to do the wine shop,” she said.
The opening of the Ridge Winery Tasting Room on Thanksgiving weekend last year was low key, but the Pavys have since erected a sign and stepped up operations. That initial “fever” is paying off.
“Business has just been amazing,” Traci Pavy noted.
The room is located 3.5 miles east of Vevay and three miles west of Belterra Casino Resort on Hwy. 156. It is now open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. “until everyone decides to leave” on weekends, said Pavy.
The family operation serves each of the Ridge Winery’s creations, and visitors can enjoy a cheese and cracker plate with their wine. The room boasts a 600-square-foot tasting area, a gift shop, and a large deck. Apart from the wines, the deck is the tasting room’s main attraction. It wraps around the back of the building, presenting visitors with a marvelous panoramic view of the Ohio River and the Markland Dam.
The gift shop offers wine accessories, gift baskets and wine-themed jewelry and gifts.
Wine tasting is free, but groups of 10 or more can expect a charge of $2.50 per person. The tasting room can also be reserved for meetings, receptions, baby showers or other special events, with a capacity of 40-50 persons, or 25 in case of rain.
Pavy hopes to begin hosting dinners and live music once per month. “We’d also like to do some grilling on the deck,” she added.
While the success of the tasting room means more work for Ridge Winery owners Tommy and Mary Jane Demaree, they aren’t complaining. “Traci has called a couple times to say they ran out of a wine, but that’s always good news,” commented Mary Jane. The Demarees have added a summer fermentation cycle to keep up with demand. Since the cool temperatures of winter naturally allow for steady fermentation, this meant implementing new equipment and techniques to stabilize the process in warmer weather. Tom got assistance perfecting the summer cycle from Purdue University’s Food Science Department, which lends expertise to the state’s 37 wineries. “The people at Purdue have been really helpful,” he said.
This fall, the Demarees mark the 10th anniversary of the Ridge Winery.
“It’s been up and down, but it’s up now,” noted Tom.
“There were times when we had to rely on Jane’s other job to kind of subsidize the winery.”
Now Mary Jane, 60, has given up her banking job to focus her efforts on the wine business.

Ridge Winery Tasting room

Photo by Penny Humphrey

The Ridge Winery's tasting room.

Tommy, 62, worked for Chenley Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for 25 years but traces his interest in wines farther back to his childhood. “It was exciting to see it change from sugars to alcohol, and learn about the process,” he remembered.
While working at Chenley, he began making his own wine at home. Friends and family soon took a liking to his Wild Cherry variety, and the Demarees contemplated starting their own winery.
Since its inception in 1995, the Ridge Winery has expanded from four wines to its current nine varietals.
“We don’t want to do so many that quality suffers, so we’ve slowly added just a few” Mary Jane explained. “He always said if we can’t sell it, he’ll drink it,” she said.
Last year, at the Indiana International Wine Competition, the Demarees collected bronze medals for their Blush and Sweet Harvest wines. Two of the biggest sellers are Blackberry and “Blackjack,” a half blackberry, half apple wine.
Rounding out the Demarees’ catalog of wines are a Country White, Country Rosé, Country Red, Classy Red, and the still-popular Wild Cherry.
When he’s not crafting wines, Tommy occupies himself with a new prawn operation. Demaree began raising the freshwater shrimp last year and hopes to incorporate them into a 10th anniversary celebration for the winery later this year.

• For more information, call the Ridge Winery at (812) 427-2792 or Pavy’s tasting room at (812) 427-3380.

Back to July 2005 Articles.



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