History of 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 Indian territory in the mid 1700’s. Because 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 swift flood waters of the Ohio, all the surrounding buildings except the winery's stone structures were lost to the river and time. With the decline of rail 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.
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 buildings intriguingg past. Neighbors repeatedly claim to have seen an unknown elderly woman tending to the garden blossoms. To this date the garden is scattered with remnants of the properties 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 its way to 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 scrap materials recycling site for many years through 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
Scrapyard 1990 - Lanthier Winery
railcar spring found on grounds
Chris Lanthier - 1990
Tasting glass at Lanthier Winery
Chris Lanthier picking grapes
In 1990, Chris Lanthier and his soon to be bride, Tami Hagemier, purchased the property and began the restoration process. In serious disrepair, it 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 it’s doors in September of that year. The Cellarmaster produced 10 different wines for the grand opening. Today the winery boasts 15 various wines 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, which almost reached the level of the 1997 flood, but thankfully it didn't and luckily the Ohio receded quickly so we could get in and start cleaning. 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 and click here for flood photos.
Hand Crafted Wines
All the wines at Lanthier Winery are hand crafted by our Cellarmaster Chris Lanthier and ONLY available at Lanthier Winery's location on Mill Street in Madison, Indiana. Learn more about our Cellarmaster on our staff page
Free Wine Tastings
Tastings at Lanthier Winery are not limited to one or two, but you are able to taste all of our wines at your leisure. Harvest Celebration Festival weekend is the only weekend when tastings are charged due to the volume of visitors at the winery.