Vineyard, Interest in Plans for a Winery Growing at Geist


Jenna Cook tends to one of 14,000 grape vines at Geist's newest vineyard.

Grape vines planted just off of Carroll Road have neighbors talking.

“We have five to 10 people a week stopping by and asking about what we’re doing,” said Scott Hamilton, an Indiana State University graduate and unofficial caretaker of the new vineyard planted just off of Carroll Road.

Admirals Sound residents, Kim and Dan Cook, always talked about one day having a vineyard and winery, so an 80-acre plot of land they purchased at an estate auction in 1997 seemed to be the perfect location for their dream business.

“We were just talking about it last fall and decided to pull the trigger on it,” said Dan as he nodded his head in the direction of over 14,000 grape vines planted in perfect symmetry. “Our plan was put on fast forward when we found out that the planting season was early spring.”

Cook Vineyard Aerial View

Highlighted area is the 80-acre plat owned by the Cooks since a 1997 auction. The southern half just below the treeline in the middle is being rezoned for a winery with tasting room, gift shop, and 20-room boutique hotel.

As soon as the ground thawed this spring, white drain pipes were installed beneath the future plants for water run-off. With the aid of AA Vineyards in upstate New York and Purdue’s Wine Grape Action Team, nine different types of grapes suited for Indiana soil were selected, shipped and planted in April.

“Unlike a lot of plants, grape vines don’t need a lot of water,” said Dan. “Even though the summer was dry for a lot of crops, it was great weather for grapes.”

Cook children, Christian, a senior at Cathedral High School, Jenna, a recent graduate from the University of Kentucky, Stephanie, a Junior at Indiana University, and Carlee, a Freshman at Purdue, worked this summer with friends recruited from area high schools to install 5,000 cedar posts, galvanized wire, and the grow tubes used to train the vines to grow upwards.

“We used to camp out here and have bonfires with the kids when they were younger, now they are all working in the family business and it’s really a neat experience,” said Kim.


Christian Cook poses next to the vintage Ford pickup truck commissioned to work at the vineyard.

Adirondack chairs, an occasional RV, and curious passersby are often parked in the gravel parking lot. Most picturesque is a two-toned turquoise and white Ford pickup that has found a home behind the cedar fencing that borders Carroll Road.

“It’s really neat,” said McCordsville Town Manager Tonya Galbraith, who hopes the plans presented to the McCordsville Planning & Zoning Committee come to fruition.

The Cooks submitted a site plan to the McCordsville Town Council detailing a vineyard, winery with tasting room, gift shop, and a 20-room boutique hotel to be built on the south half of the 80-acre parcel. Galbraith is excited to have a destination like this in McCordsville with so much green space.

“I just think of what Chateau Thomas has done in Plainfield with outdoor jazz concerts and other events that draw people from all over. It would be great for the area to have such a destination.”

In order to get the approval from the town, the Cooks have to present their final plans to the Planning & Zoning Committee on October 28th. Galbraith doesn’t foresee any issues with the approval to rezone the 40 acres and expects a final approval in early 2011.

Dan concedes that most wineries build their structures first and then plant their vineyards, but they decided to put the proverbial cart before the horse and get their grapes planted first.

“It takes about five years before the vines really bear good grapes anyway, so we thought that would give us some time to plan out the winery and other structures.”

As for the name of the winery, that remains to be decided. If left up to the Cook’s daughter, it will be named “Jenna’s Vineyard,” but the other siblings might have something to say about that.

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This article was written by Tom Britt

Publisher and founder of the "Geist Community Newsletter" and

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