From Homemade Gift to Growing Business
by Stephanie Brown
Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder, because they are there. -Judith Viorst
Whether it be to discuss business, to celebrate a certain event, to enjoy a night out with visiting family, or just to catch up with friends after a vacation, it is an age-old favorite for people to come together for drinks. While the beverage preference may vary from occasion to occasion, a night out at the local winery, sampling homemade wine is sure to be a hit among many.
Audrey Muhlenkamp, owner of The Tipsy Glass Winery in Bryant, Indiana, had that exact thought when her family and friends would make the drive to Wisconsin to visit. “Microbrews and wineries were becoming a big thing then, and I was astounded at how much better the wine coming from the local wineries tasted in comparison to those bought at the store,” she explains.
“It came down to, they were using locally-grown produce, as well as making smaller batches, and it produced a higher quality wine that I enjoyed drinking. It was there actually, in Wisconsin, that I fully came to appreciate Midwest wines, and all the hard work that goes into making a wine that is approachable.”
Although it may have been in Wisconsin that she discovered she enjoyed drinking wine, it was here in Indiana that she learned to make her own. “A friend of mine that I attended Purdue University with invited me down for a wine and beer tasting fundraiser hosted by the Lafayette Historical Society,” Audrey recalls.
“There was a tent set up there that showed you exactly what equipment, as well as what products you would need to make wine at home. A couple of months later, I bought the equipment and the juice kit, and started making my own wine.”
The first wine that Audrey ever made was a Zinfandel—because she didn’t think she could mess that one up, she says with a smile. It turned out well, so she made three more batches and gave those away for Christmas. The wine proved a success with family and friends, so giving bottles of homemade wine as a gift became a habit for her.
“On birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and for weddings, I would gift cases of wine. Those people would take a bottle with them when they would go to other events, and before I knew it, I had people that I didn’t know calling me, asking me if I had wine for sale. It made me think that maybe there was a business venture there,” Audrey says.
The Tipsy Glass Winery opened in early February of this year, and started with wine tastings only on Fridays. “Saturdays and Sundays were saved for racking, filtering, and bottling wine for inventory, until we could get enough made and on the shelf to keep things going,” Audrey explains.
“With a minimum of a two to three month waiting time for the wine to mature enough to be sold, it has been extremely busy around here. I couldn’t have done any of this without my mom and dad, though, who have given up so much of their time to help me make my dreams come true here.
“My mom helps serve, clean, and set things up, and my dad comes and helps make the wine and bottle it, as well, just to list a few of the things that they do. They are both a big part of the success of this business,” she adds.
Currently, The Tipsy Glass Winery is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. “We have more in the mix coming up for the summer. With longer days ahead, it only makes sense to have longer hours at the winery, so we are looking at getting some musicians in here for tastings and live music,” says Audrey.
“We also are hosting our first wine and canvas event next week and have had multiple requests to do other events. Things are really picking up quickly, and I believe it’s going great here!”
When asked her favorite wine make and drink, Audrey answers, “I don’t make a wine that I don’t enjoy, and I make them all with the intentions of them appealing to the public, as well.” With names like Goober Grape, a grapey red wine with a splash of peanut butter flavor; Love Potion, a sweet red grape wine with a blueberry flavor; Apple Cliff, a sweet apple wine made from 100-percent local Jay County apples; and Patriot Red, “grape jelly in a glass” (this homemade wine also won a gold medal at an Indy International Wine Competition), there is sure to be something to appeal to anyone’s palate!
Check out The Tipsy Glass’ current inventory, new wines coming soon, and any upcoming events on the website or Facebook page.
The Tipsy Glass Winery
8685 North 400 East
Bryant, IN 47326