DARKE COUNTY – The 2016-17 Darke County Visitors Guide will include a new feature aimed at tipplers, tasters and tap meisters. The Whiskey, Wine and Ale Trail consists of six locations for lovers of local libations.
The trail includes the three wineries in Darke County – the Winery at Versailles, A.R. Winery in Arcanum, and Kennedy Vineyard in New Madison.
The “whiskey” portion of the trail leads to Indian Creek Distillery in New Carlisle, and the “ale” components are Moeller Brew Barn in Maria Stein and Barnstorm Brewing Company in Coldwater.
“All these locations have their own individual stories, their own histories,” said Matt Staugler, executive director of the Darke County Visitors Bureau. “The purpose of the feature is to educate the public that these things are in our area.”
The Darke County wineries all feature tasting rooms, and various nibbles are available, in addition to special events and tours as scheduled.
All are relatively new, with the Winery at Versailles (WAV) established in 2002, the Kennedy Vineyard in 2013 and A.R. Winery in 2015. WAV already has a well-established reputation in the Ohio Wines circle, and Kennedy and A.R. are quickly gaining attention with solid showings in wine competitions.
Moeller Brew Barn has a visual tour of the brewery from your bar stool in the tap room, or visitors can call ahead to take a tour. Thursday brew nights include a demonstration. Limited nibbles are available, but outside food is welcome.
Barnstorm Brewing Company is converting an old dairy barn into a brewery, Staugler said. The new brewery established its limited liability corporation in April 2015.
The only distillery is – by far – the old man on the block. Indian Creek Distillery has been around for 200 years. On Saturdays, visitors can take a tour of the stillhouse for $10, which includes a tasting. Tastings also are offered without the tour any time during regular hours. The distillery is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A more extensive tour, including the grist mill, old distillery ruins, original mash house, warehouse and new distillery, is available by reservation only. Staugler said the distillery even has displays of letter from Civil War soldiers requesting they send whiskey.
“All these great experiences are out there, but no everyone knows they’re there,” Staugler said. “We want people from around here to know these things are here in our backyard. People from Dayton or somewhere, you let them know we have a wide range of things to do and they can make it a weekend trip.
The Whiskey, Wine and Ale Trail feature includes suggestions for accommodations to make a weekend of it.
The 2016-17 Darke County Visitors Guide goes to print next week, Staugler said, and print copies should be available by Feb. 1.
Staugler said “local folks” should know that the new guide will include lots of new features, so even if they have an old copy, they should stop by the Visitors Center for a new one.
Copies also will be distributed at local landmarks and attractions, as well as tourist stops and accommodations along Interstates 75 and 70, among other locations..