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 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
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, 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.
Hand Crafted Wines
All of our wines are hand crafted by our Cellarmaster, Chris Lanthier, and are ONLY available at Lanthier Winery's location on Mill Street in Madison, Indiana.
Free Wine Tastings
At Lanthier Winery, tastings are not limited to one or two, but all of our wines at your leisure. Harvest Celebration Festival is the only weekend when tastings are charged due to the volume of visitors at the winery.