Wine, Art, and Music
at Chateau Thomas Winery

by Barney Quick

The Chateau Thomas Winery’s Nashville Tasting Room has proven itself to be a favorite visitors’ attraction, the hub of many locals’ social life, and a musical venue that impresses players and listeners alike. It also serves as exhibition space for artists.

The Art Alliance of Brown County has a show running there from May 1 to the end of July. Subsequent three-month shows by the Alliance will run in back-to-back fashion.

“When we opened our expansion [a room adjacent to the main tasting area], the late Lynne Foster Fife, who was president of the Alliance at the time, approached us, originally about hosting a reception,” says manager Geoff Thompson. That initial conversation eventually evolved into the current arrangement.

The Art Alliance show represents the gamut of media, approaches, and sensibilities of the members. Along with several examples of oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, photography, textiles, and ceramics, there are some intriguing mixed-media pieces. These include glass with copper overlay, a photograph-and-stained-glass combination, a decorated gourd, and a photography piece with poetry.

Chateau Thomas’s Nashville facility is an offshoot of the main winery and business headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana. Originally, Chateau Thomas had a store in Nashville’s Artist Colony Shoppes. The tasting room was established ten years ago.

Chateau Thomas Winery’s Nashville Tasting Room

It serves a unique function in the community. This is largely due to Thompson’s engaging personality and his sense of what Brown County was ready for. After years of living in such locales as Europe and the Caribbean, he was charmed by Brown County on a business-trip visit and, like many before him, decided to stay. He took his position with Chateau Thomas six years ago and quickly instituted the music program. “I went to places around here where there was music and met Slats [Klug] and Robbie [Bowden],” two prominent local string-band figures.

His aim is to showcase south-central Indiana talent, with somewhat of a focus on Brown County. Music is featured on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Musicians like this environment enough to feel some loyalty to it,” he observes. He mentions singer-songwriter Krista Detor, who is based in Bloomington, but has recently enjoyed international acclaim and touring opportunities. “She still calls me up and asks, ’Can I book a date?’” he says.

Violinist Carolyn Dutton, who plays the tasting room in a variety of musical settings from country-rock to jazz says, “It’s become a neighborhood hangout. There’s a crew of people we look forward to seeing. It’s given Nashville a place to catch up on the latest news and gossip.” Guitarist and song stylist Dave Miller says, “It’s intimate. You can talk to people between songs. It’s a real good mix of locals and tourists, which is great. I love playing for first-timers.”

Thompson is pleased with the mix as well, noting that some of the out-of-towners can be considered regulars, given that they constitute repeat business. He notes that the locals have come to see it as “a stopping-off point between work and dinner” (although, it should be noted, Thompson also finds a large part of Brown County’s appeal to be the fact that “really, everybody’s on vacation”).

Chateau Thomas is involved in civic life in other ways as well. It sponsored a stage at April’s Taste of Brown County and May’s Spring Blossom Art Festival.

Thompson feels blessed with an ideal staff. “Everybody here loves wines,” he says.

The team at Chateau Thomas wants to make sure that various civic organizations know that its facility is ready to host their events and meetings. For information on setting up such an occasion or on the music or art programs, call (812) 988-8500.