Shakin’ it up

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CoverShot1Ron

Local wine maker brings new energy and events to the village in just one year

By Abby Walton

Right now, Ron Hopwood can’t make wine fast enough.

“We would love to distribute our wines to local grocers or restaurants, but we just don’t have that ability right now,” he said. The Zionsville winery owner has become so popular in his first year of business that whenever a batch is ready to go, it’s usually gone by the end of the day. But after working towards his dream for more than a decade, Hopwood said it’s good to be busy.

“My goal was just to make a good glass of wine that you could take with you and sit out on the back patio. All of this has exceeded my wildest dreams,” he said.

Sommelier, Erik Larsen shares his thoughts on wine pairings at a recent “Sommelier Night” on Sept. 11. “When I came in I realized his (Hopwood) wine making style was different than what you find in the midwest,” Larsen said. “It has a European influence. He also brings out a more complex range of grapes than you would not normally find.” (Photo by Julie Osborne)

Sommelier, Erik Larsen shares his thoughts on wine pairings at a recent “Sommelier Night” on Sept. 11. “When I came in I realized his (Hopwood) wine making style was different than what you find in the midwest,” Larsen said. “It has a European influence. He also brings out a more complex range of grapes than you would not normally find.”

For someone so passionate and knowledgeable about wine, one might think Hopwood has been in the business all his life. However, his wine-making actually started out as a hobby.

“I was a realtor for many years,” he said. By studying wine and making it at home since 1996, this hobby started to develop into something more. “It got to the point where, by the time I was marrying my wife, Janet, I was able to supply my whole wedding with wine that I made,” Hopwood said.

Six years ago, with the support of his family, Hopwood made a life-changing decision. “I knew I was good at two things, selling houses and making wine. So in my mid-40’s, I decided making wine was more fun,” he said. With that, Hopwood started looking for a place to open his winery.

“I knew I wanted to be in this area because there are no other wineries around,” he said, “I took one look at the brick streets and it just felt like the right place to make fine wines.” One year ago Hopwood quit his real estate position and launched into his wine-making business full-time on Cedar Street.

In the back of his shop, not only does Hopwood make several kinds of red and white wines, he also prides himself on creating wine blends. He said this is done by using two different types of grapes. Whether you have a palate for dry or sweet wines, Hopwood’s goal is to make sure you leave happy and also more educated about wine. “We make it a priority to give people knowledge about the wines they’re drinking and how to pair them with certain foods.”

The winery hosts “Sommelier Night” with tastings from a local wine expert to learn how to pair wines with chocolate or even more adventurous things like takeout and tailgate food. He also specializes in the “wine shake” which has become so popular that people from out of town have made repeat trips.

Chicago residents Nick Miketinac and Geoff Giorigi made a return trip for Hopwood’s famous “wine shake”.

Chicago residents Nick Miketinac and Geoff Giorigi made a return trip for Hopwood’s famous “wine shake”.

“It’s the only wine shake available anywhere. It’s delicious,” Nick Miketinac, of Chicago, said. His friend added, “The first time we walked in after dinner I said, ‘I’ll have whatever you’re famous for.’”

Geoff Giorgi said. “At first, it sounded horrible but now I come back, all the way from Chicago, for a wine shake. It’s my after dinner dessert.”

By making wine something that’s fun and not intimidating, Hopwood has created a business that continues to grow with plans to buy larger tanks to ferment and store more wine while looking for land for his own vineyard.

“My goal is to find the right soil here in Boone County. But if I can’t find the right soil here, then I’ll just bring it in myself,” he said.

When talking to Hopwood, it’s evident how much he credits the people of Zionsville and the surrounding areas for his success. “The people are just awesome here and are really big on supporting local businesses,” he said. In turn, Hopwood said he’s glad to help the local economy by bringing people from the surrounding cities to Zionsville, with 65 percent of his business from out of towners.

While some people place the West Coast as the wine-making capital of the nation, Hopwood is working hard to prove them wrong. “We are living proof that fine wines can be made in the Midwest.”

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Janet and Ron Hopwood

Meet The Hopwoods

Ron (45), Janet (44), Sayge (6), Quinn (4)

Hopwood Cellars Winery

12 E. Cedar St.

Business Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and available for special events on or off site.

One Year Anniversary Party and Grape Stomp 7 to 9 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the winery. For more information visit www.hopwoodcellars.com or call 873-4099.


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