BRISTOL -- The last orchard of the Bristol fruit hills will provide the Bristol area with one of its first attractions this fall.
Judson Fruit Farm, owned by David and Michele Muir, will feature Fruithills Winery, set to open later this year. The winery will offer tastings and sales of fruit wines made from the apples, peaches and cherries produced on the farm. It will eventually produce some grape wines as well.
It's also the rich history of the farm that compliments the sophisticated atmosphere of a winery. Muir's family has owned the property since 1852 and established the orchard in 1898. It was one of many orchards making up the Bristol fruit hills that spanned from Bristol down to what is now U.S. 20.
"I wanted to create something that would be an asset to Elkhart County, a place where people would like to come and visit," he said. "We wanted to add to Bristol."
Fruithills Winery will do just that, according to a statement from Diana Lawson, executive director of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"The Fruithills Winery fits in very well with the new Northern Indiana Art and Earth Trail and the small retail business clusters along the Heritage Trail that showcase unique, genuine products and experiences," Lawson said. "The new winery offers something very different to do in Bristol while complementing the town's authenticity."
The Muirs hope to maintain the site's history by adding to the farm's profitability with the winery -- a business his family can maintain and live on. Despite Muir's assertion that he'll never completely retire, he's hoping the winery will eventually suffice as his and Michele's retirement income. Realistically, he'll be out working in the vineyard and down in the basement "squashing grapes," he said.
The farm alone was "never enough of an enterprise for a living," Muir said, so there are high hopes for the winery.
"It'll preserve the farm. It'll preserve the orchard and give the kids something to carry on when we're gone," Muir said.
But it's not just the property's history the Muirs want to carry on. It's also the family's. The Muirs have been making fruit wines for years with their produce. Soon, they'll be able to share that enjoyment with everyone.