ABOUT LANTHIER WINERY
HISTORY OF THE WINERY
Madison, Indiana is filled with history, none more unique or colorful than Lanthier Winery's. If walls could talk in the old 18th century building, they would whisper tales of early trappers and settlers who built the original 24 inch thick stone walls as a haven from the then wild west. What is now the Cellar Tasting Room is believed by some, to be an old fort or outpost established by settlers seeking comfort and safety as they moved through uncertain territory in the mid 1700’s. Due to the fact that the area was abundant with buffalo and wild game, trappers, explorers and settlers quickly made the colorful, rolling hillside of scenic Historic Madison, Indiana home.
Near 1850, railroad traders added a two story brick section and used the buildings as a trading post and depot exchange. The “Depot Exchange” became a well known house of ill repute with many “exchanges” taking place during Madison, Indiana’s great railroad and steamboat days. The buildings were later used as a stable and storage for a nearby hotel. Often plagued by the swift flood waters of the Ohio River, all the surrounding buildings, except the winery's stone structures, were lost to the river and time. With the decline of railroad and river transport, this beautiful city retreated from attention and the community settled into small town life. What is now the winery gardens was once an entire subdivision of wooden homes and "shotgun" houses. The "Depot Exchange" was to house many other business over the course of time.
Continuing it's colorful past, it became home to such endeavors as a local market, offices for a canning factory, a saloon, and a brothel. Many believe the winery is haunted by one of the gentle ladies of the building's intriguing past. Neighbors have repeatedly claimed to have seen an unknown, elderly woman tending to the garden's blossoms. To this date, the garden is scattered with remnants of the property's history. As the 1900's moved forward and Madison, Indiana's role in the civil war receded, citizens began looking for new ways to sustain prosperity. Always located "on the wrong side of the tracks", the property began to decline and, during World Wars I and II, the grounds and buildings were used as a scrap yard. What is now the production room was added during WWII: two stories of cardboard, broken glass and metal found their way into the facility. Elderly Madison, Indiana locals recall bringing newspapers and bottles during the wars and collecting a few cents for their “recyclables.” The area continued to be a scrap materials recycling site until the 1970’s, at which time the property was abandoned and collapsed into disrepair. Tons of scrap metal, paper, cardboard and glass were left in the building and on the grounds.
Lanthier Winery 1990
railcar spring found on grounds
In 1990, Chris Lanthier and his soon-to-be bride, Tami Hagemier, purchased the property and began the restoration process. In serious disrepair, the property required four years of intense restoration, including 12 months to remove debris left from decades of neglect. The process was complete in 1994 and Lanthier Winery opened its doors in September of that year. The Cellarmaster produced 10 different wines for the grand opening. Today, the winery boasts 15 varieties of wine, plus 3 holiday wines, and is one of Madison's most popular tourist attractions.
The most recent addition, to an already unique history, was the 2018 flood of the Ohio River. Almost reaching the the level of the 1997 flood, but thankfully didn't. The Ohio receded quickly, and we were able to start the cleaning process soon after. In 1997, the river brought an eight and a half foot crest of water and mud to the property, closing the winery for 6 months. You could not enter the building through any of the doors unless you were on a boat! January of 2005, the mighty Ohio rose again, but not quite as high. The 2005 flood reached the winery's south driveway, near the garden, but did little damage and didn't keep visitors away! Click here to visit the flood page with additional pictures and information from the 1997 flood. Click here for flood photos.
FURRY & FEATURED FRIENDS OF THE WINERY
Lanthier Winery is a surprising home to several furry and feathered friends. Over the years, it has grown to include several winery pets. Some live out in the garden, some stroll through the winery and, of course, we always welcome our four legged friends that bring their owners to the winery for a treat, bowl of water water, and a nice stroll through the garden. Their owners like to get a glass of wine, too!
Take time and meet some of our pets and guests! If you are visiting with your furry friend, please share your images with us on Facebook, or email them to us.
Lanthier Winery is a big supporter of the Madison- Jefferson County Humane Society. Find out more on low-cost veterinary services for cats and dogs, our S.N.I.P. Clinic and other services & advice.
The winery has taken on the role of temporary mom and doctor to several animals over the years. Some of the more memorable are Tweeter and our famous kitty, Miracle. Don't be alarmed if you see us bottle feeding a kitten or helping a bird learn to fly in the gardens, we just can't help but love all of the creatures that wander into our garden.
Insects, Snails & More
The winery has been able to create several different habitats for all types of animals over the years. From toads and snakes to snails and butterflies, we strive to promote thoughtful gardening with the education of how bees, worms and more are necessary to your garden's success.
THE WINERY FAMILY
We work hard and play harder.
We laugh, cut up and sometimes get just a little loud.
We can be messy, but we will clean it up...eventually.
We are the Lanthier Winery Family
From the Friendly Fermenter and Director of Chaos to the 'we are very glad you're here' Volunteers, we have people in and out of the winery all helping to create the experience we truly hope you enjoy. Whether you are tasting in the cellar tasting room, or strolling in the garden, we all work for the same goal and that is to create -
"a far away feeling, close enough to taste."
aka The Friendly Fermenter
Christopher’s dream to pursue his own business began with a simple thought inspired by visits to Napa Valley wine country in 1990. Following numerous 'wine trail' trips throughout the United States and other countries, he investigated the possibilities of establishing a winery in Historic Madison, Indiana and, years later, Lanthier Winery came to life. His meticulous attention to detail is what's created so many loved, award winning wines throughout the years.
aka Director of Chaos
Ms. Hagemier holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University. She has extensive business experience including business start-ups, profitability analysis and growth management. Despite her role as Lanthier Winery's CEO, she prefers that most people know her as the winery's Master Gardener.
aka The Fam
We have full time, part time, seasonal, interns and volunteers that all come together to make Lanthier Winery a favorite tourist destination. With events throughout the year and the day to day operations, each and every person is appreciated and helps create the enjoyable experience.
On March 9th, 1997, just a few years after the winery's grand opening, the Ohio River was continuing its annual springtime rise. This year, however, it continued its rise into the winery. View the 1997 photos to see the river taking over the winery (it crested two feet higher on March 11, 1997). After it crested it began a slow seven day decent, leaving behind a muddy mess.
A view of Lanthier Winery looking west on the north side of the property can be seen in the photos. The winery entrance was completely submerged and only a few, tall evergreens were visible in the north garden.
Upon being warned of the impending flood, friends and family pitched in to help save 'what could be saved.' On advice of experienced 'river rats,' a garden hose was attached to the entrance door so crews could enter the winery while there was still plenty of water to help ease the clean up process (heavy things float in water, which eases the removal process). As soon as the water dropped to wading height (below chest), Tami followed the floating hose from the north alley, across the garden, to the entrance door.
Friends and family arrived by the hundreds to help rescue the winery. Elroy Szabo (see flood photos), stands thigh deep in water to show off his fancy wading pants. The sign reads, 'We are Open Sundays' and is sitting on a table floating in the Ohio River, whose murky waters still lingered in the winery more than 8 days after it had crested. Kevin Shadday and Gerry Chase (see flood photos) rowed into the driveway. The dark line on the pole shows the high water mark from the day before.
Lanthier Winery will never forget everyone's special support and rescue efforts during this difficult time. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and we are grateful to everyone who helped our business bounce back and become better than ever.