When people start to talk about the most popular tourist destination in Indiana the things that come to mind might be the sandy Indiana Dunes along Lake Michigan or 230+ miles per hour Indy cars zipping around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the dinosaurs poking their heads out of the side of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Those are all fine places but the top tourist destination in Indiana is Huber’s Orchard & Winery in Starlight, Indiana and the home to Huber’s Starlight Distillery.
Celebrating 175 Years as a Family Farm
Huber’s Orchard & Winery plays host to nearly 700,000 agro-tourism guests per year. To put this in perspective, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, about 30 minutes south just across the Ohio River, saw just over 1 million visitors last year across all its distillery destinations. 700k is quite impressive.
The Huber homestead and farm started in 1843 when Simon Huber brought with him from Baden-Baden, Germany his years of experience in fruit growing and wine making. From its humble 80 acre beginning, the farm has expanded to close to 700 acres and now features a farm market, bakery, home-made ice cream shop, U-pick produce like strawberries, raspberries, apples, pumpkins, U-cut Christmas trees, a full service restaurant, a petting zoo, a banquet hall, a winery and a distillery.
This past week, the family kicked off a yearlong 175th anniversary celebration with a gathering of the family members, fans and presentations by local dignitaries. While reflecting on the 175 years of heritage and farming tradition, 6th Generation co-owners, Greg & Ted Huber appreciate the deep roots that the previous generation established. Greg is grateful for “being able to work with his family and pass [the tradition] on to another generation.” Ted recalls the long work days growing up and remains “thankful for the strong work ethic, pride, and opportunity his parents passed onto him.” First cousins and business partners, this duo has grown this family destination business into one of the largest tourist attractions in the regional area.
First and Foremost Huber’s is a Farm
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Listen or download the Huber’s 175th Anniversary Podcast here.
“The best of the best in the agro-tourism industry want to come here and see this and experience this first hand so they can replicate even just a small part of what this place represents,” said Mark Newman Executive Director Indiana Office of Tourism Development. “I think that should be a point of pride that we as an entire state should embrace.”
“Most businesses don’t survive five years let alone 175. Huber’s is truly special. The Huber Farm is a special place. It is a place where memories are made,” according to Indiana State Representative Ed Clere. “And it is important to remember that underneath everything else, Huber’s is still and first of all a farm.”
How Huber’s Changed the Face of Craft Spirits Distilling in Indiana
“I can tell you that without the Huber family, there certainly would not have been an artisan distiller law in Indiana in 2013. And I doubt there would be one today,” said Clere. “It was Ted Huber who approached me with the idea soon after I was first elected. It was the Huber story that gave personality and character and meaning to what otherwise would have been an alcohol issue that likely would have remained mired in state house politics for years. Instead, because of the Huber family, discussion turned to agriculture, family farms, economic development and tourism. And that’s what it’s all about. Thanks to Huber’s, Indiana has a burgeoning new industry that has already attracted tens of millions of dollars of investment and created hundreds of new jobs. What makes artisan distilling special is the stories and the sense of place. Artisan distillers are bottling the Hoosier state, it’s history, it’s communities, it’s sights and sounds.”
Huber’s Orchard and Winery first got into the distillation business in 2001 when they obtained approval and licensing to open Huber’s Starlight Distillery to craft brandy. The brandy took advantage of the farms homegrown fruits. It wasn’t until 2014 when Ted Huber worked with State Representative Clere to help to change the state’s laws to allow distilleries to produce grain-based, in addition to fruit-based, spirits. The Starlight Distillery continues the distillation techniques passed down from one generation to another.
We all look forward to what they will do in next 175 years!
Huber’s Starlight Distillery Photo Gallery
Click any image to enlarge.