Time for a Little Wine Education

“So, it’s like a Tupperware party?”

That was my father’s summation of how I’d described the wine tasting event I’d set up last month as a Father’s Day surprise.

Not exactly, Dad.

I was trying to explain the new Tasting Life program from Monarch Beverage. Maybe I’ll do a better job of it here: Tasting Life is a wine tasting and education experience with a wine expert from Monarch Beverage, Indiana’s largest distributor of beer and wine.

Anyone interested in having a Tasting Life party purchases a six-pack of wine at liquor stores throughout Central Indiana and then schedules a free one-hour wine tasting education experience with a wine expert from Monarch Beverage.

(Disclaimer: The folks at Monarch were generous in supplying the Indiana varietal wine pack for my party. You have to purchase your own wine; the Tasting Life web site has a store locator application to make it easy to find. And our wine expert, Ashley Johnson, let me know that Kroger stores just partnered to begin selling the packs.)

This is where the party varies from a plastic dishware, food product or purse party: there are no sales at any point. It’s strictly a wine tasting and education event.

There are four different wine packs to choose from: an Indiana varietal pack with three red and three white Hoosier wines; a domestic varietal with three reds and three whites; a red varietal; and an international varietal pack. I wanted to also highlight some of the Indiana wineries, and as my family is soon to relocate back home again in Indiana, I chose the Indiana varietal pack.

Our expert showed up a few minutes early to pop open each bottle while explaining how the program works and a little bit about herself, before we launched into the five S’s of wine tasting: sight, swirl, smell, sip and spit (okay, we didn’t do that last one – any wine that was sipped was consumed).

I learned a lot about wine and Hoosier wineries in that hour. Did you know that by the end of the year there will be about 80 wineries here in Indiana? I had no idea there were that many.

I also learned that the Traminette grape is the state grape of Indiana. Didn’t even know we had a state grape.

Here’s one more tidbit: the United States of America recently became the No. 1 wine-consuming nation in the world. Take that, France and Italy!

In the Indiana varietal pack, there are five wineries represented: Rettig Hill in Batesville, Best Winery in Harrison County, Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield and other locations, Turtle Run Winery in Corydon and Butler Winery in Bloomington.

My favorite was the Turtle Run Red My Mind. Sweet and fruity without being too sugary – it went with my steak shish kabobs and fancy cheese selection. And we finished that bottle off before any of the rest of them. But, honestly, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. For a novice wine drinker, I now have some lingo to use and a better understanding of my tastes, along with more knowledge about the Hoosier wine business.

And, my family had a totally unique Father’s Day, complete with wine and fancy cheese.

For more information on the program or to schedule a party, visit www.tastinglife.com.

That’s Logistics!

David Tucker of Vincennes University takes a look at logistics training and education, including a new facility in Plainfield. Read the story in the March/April edition of BizVoice, which explains logistics developments and education efforts going on around the state. This effort could prove pivotal in giving many Hoosiers the skills necessary to fill jobs.

Vincennes U., Plainfield Partner for Major Logistics Project

I’m wrapping up the finishing touches on a March/April BizVoice article on logistics initiatives in Indiana, and it highlights the new Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield. Inside INdiana Business interviewed Vincennes University President Dick Helton about the development. See the video here:

Vincennes University is dedicating a new Logistics Training and Education Center today in Plainfield. The launch of the facility has been aided by a $500,000 grant from the town. In an interview to air this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television, VU President Dick Helton talks about the role the center is playing in helping train the state’s logistics workforce.

Chamber Names Indiana’s ‘Best Buy’ Schools

Chamber officials are traveling the state today (and tomorrow) recognizing the schools that warranted our "Best Buy" label this year. See below for a description of the award and this year’s honorees (and view the full report here):

For 2009, 135 public high schools were designated as a "best buy" for giving taxpayers the most value for their money.  Two methods determined this honor. A school was named a best buy if it had a quality index above the state median and revenues below the statewide median of $10,179 per student. The second method was by having a quality index ranking that was 20% higher than the school’s revenue ranking.

In addition, from the best buy group, 26 high schools were given the "honor roll" distinction for excelling academically despite having at-risk student demographics above the statewide median. For their exemplary efforts, the top five schools from the best buy and honor roll lists were then selected as "head of the class" members.

The 2009 "head of the class" selections are:

– Adams Central High School in Monroe (Adams County);
– Forest Park Jr.-Sr. High School in Ferdinand (Dubois County);
– North Central High School in Indianapolis (Marion County);
– Northwestern High School in Kokomo (Howard County);
– Plainfield High School (Hendricks County);
– Plymouth High School (Marshall County);
– Signature School in Evansville (Vanderburgh County).
– South Adams Jr.-Sr. High School in Berne (Adams County);
– Triton Jr.-Sr. High School in Bourbon (Marshall County); and
– Warsaw Community High School (Kosciusko County).

Duke Energy-Indiana Ties Run Deep

Jim Rogers’ road to the head of Duke Energy and leadership both within his industry and the U.S. business community began, in one sense, in Indiana. 

Who knew in 1988 when he joined Plainfield-based PSI Energy as chairman, president and CEO that PSI would merge with Cinergy (putting Rogers in a similar role out of Cincinnati from 1995-2006) and that the Cinergy-Duke marriage three years ago would elevate him to the leadership position he currently holds.

Rogers made an impact and left an impression in the Hoosier state. He served on the boards of directors of several leading corporations (Indiana National Bank and Duke Realty among them) and earned honorary doctorate degrees from Indiana State University (law) and Marian College (now Marian University) in business administration.

“When Jim Rogers arrived at PSI Energy  in the late 1980s, he brought a level of enthusiasm and vision that challenged the historically conservative power industry,” declares Vince Griffin, who worked for Rogers at that time and is now the Indiana Chamber vice president of environmental and energy policy. “This is unquestionably a challenging time for the electric power industry.”

Duke Energy is also looking at its Edwardsport, Indiana facility as a pilot project for the future with its investment in a 630-megawatt IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) facility.

Indiana takes center stage in the energy debate on September 2 with the Indiana Conference on Energy Management. The Duke Energy view, and undoubtedly a heavy dose of Rogers’ philosophy, will be featured in the keynote address from Jim Turner, the company’s second in command and leader of U.S. franchised electric and gas operations.

Brightpoint CEO Rings NASDAQ Bell

Brightpoint received some national exposure this morning in light of the Indianapolis/Plainfield company’s 20th anniversary. The Indy Star explains:

Brightpoint’s Chief Executive Robert J. Laikin will ring the NASDAQ opening bell today in New York to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Indianapolis-based wireless device distributor.

Laikin will ring at 9:30 a.m. at its MarketSite in Times Square.

"It’s a privilege to celebrate Brightpoint’s 20th anniversary and the continued success of the company by ringing the NASDAQ opening bell," said Laikin in a statement last month. "Since the birth of the company in 1989 and our debut as a NASDAQ-listed company in 1994, we’ve grown both in size and capabilities and made the Fortune 500 list in 2009."

Brownsburg, St. John, Others Honored by CNNMoney

In CNNMoney.com’s 2009 list of Best Places to Live for small(ish) towns, the top 50 featured two Hoosier burgs — Brownsburg (33rd) and St. John (48th).

Also noteworthy, in a ranking of the Most Affordable Cities (using the criteria, "Residents who buy real estate in these towns from the Best Places database see their incomes go the furthest"), Indiana placed five cities/towns in the top 25. They are:

2. New Haven – $89,152 (median home price in 2008)
7. Brownsburg – $131,000
10. Noblesville – $150,000
24. Plainfield – $126,000
25. Merrillville – $122,309

Check out the list here.

Hat tip to Inside INdiana Business.

Conexus Round Tables Bring Economic Issues to Fore

Conexus Indiana is hosting a series of round tables throughout the state this fall to address some of the key issues facing Indiana. The goal of each discussion will be to examine and brainstorm with professional experts in order to learn how Indiana can become a logistical stronghold in the various industries that impact different parts of the state.

"It’s a chance to provide insight on the infrastructure needs, policy challenges and workforce gaps that must be tackled to put Indiana on the map as a global logistics hub," says spokesman Luke LaBeau.

Here is the upcoming schedule, with each round table discussing issues that impact the corresponding area of the state. For more information, call the listed contact:

Sept. 25 – Portage, 4-6 p.m. EST
Northwest Indiana Forum Auditorium
Contact: Karen Lauerman – (219) 763-6303 ext. 181

Oct. 2 – Fort Wayne, 3-5 p.m. EST
Summit Club
Contact: Kathleen Randolph – (260) 459-1400 ext. 4502

Oct. 10 – Muncie, 9-11 a.m. EST
Ball State Alumni Center
Contact: Roy Bud – (765) 254-1420

Oct. 14 – Evansville, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. EST
Ivy Tech
Contact: Greg Wathen – (812) 423-2020

Nov. 14 – Plainfield, 9-11 a.m. EST
Contact: Joyce Zwierlein – (317) 707-2382

Nov. 19 – Notre Dame, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. EST
Center for Continuing Education
Contact: Robert Bernhard – (574) 631-1862