Pasture Red, Pasture White, Combined, Winter Warmer, …. Just a few of the 16 wines from Monkey Hollow Winery in St. Meinrad in southwestern Indiana. And soon, Monkeyshine. That will be the winery’s name for its moonshine. Legal moonshine. It’s the latest venture for the Hedinger farm family. With three adult children in other careers, the farming tradition of raising cattle and growing hay was on the wane. There just wasn’t a lot of money in farming; by the year 2000, Dan and Rita Hedinger were just raising cattle and growing hay. “We wanted to keep the farm in the family’s name,” says their daughter, Jaime Zellers. “But none of us wanted to do what Dad is doing.”
So in 2003 the kids said they wanted to plant five acres of grapes. “I told them I didn’t want any part of it,” the elder Hedinger says. “But they kept after me, so I told them to go ahead and plant their five acres.”By 2010 they all were picking the grapes and selling them, but they weren’t making any money. “I said they needed to build a winery or I was going to take a Bush Hog to the grapes,”says Dad. “So we built a winery.” Its success has surprised them all. The oldest Hedinger child, Dan II, a nurse practitioner by day, is the winemaker. “He was interested in the wine already. I don’t know where that came from; I don’t drink wine. Maybe that’s why they let me work here,” says Dad, shaking his head and smiling. Zellers takes care of the business side and typically works the tasting room. Son Andy, a deputy prosecutor, is also co-owner of St. Benedict’s Brew Works on the grounds of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand. It’s the only craft brewery in the U.S. to be located on the grounds of a women’s religious community.
The family also has the Monkey Hollow Winery & Bistro at the Historic Wollenmann Home in Ferdinand. The winery is in the Central Time Zone, the bistro in the Eastern Time Zone. Monkey Hollow is one of eight wineries on the new Hoosier Wine Trail, which closely follows the I-64 corridor. “We all work together,” Hedinger says. “It’s mutually beneficial to have several wineries close together,” adds Zellers.
For more information, visit http://monkeyhollowwinery.com