Ron Hopwood has been making wine since 1994 after a 22-year career in real estate in Avon. What started as a hobby eventually became a business and Hopwood Cellars Winery in Zionsville is now celebrating 24 years in wine.
“It started in my basement,” Hopwood said. “Most wine makers in the country all started in their basement and it just kind of outgrows the house and then you finally decide to turn the key and turn it into a business. That’s exactly what we did.”
As an appreciation of his customers, Hopwood started the Big Grape Stomp. This year’s stomp last weekend marked the sixth annual grape stomp with a live band, games, a bounce house and the center attraction: grape stomping.
Hopwood said he buys 900 pounds of grapes each year for the stomping. Participants step barefoot into these large cedar vats and begin stomping to release the juice from the grapes. Hopwood doesn’t use the juice in his winemaking; it’s just a fun activity.
“It’s kind of tearful to see it just turn into nothing and running down the street,” Hopwood said. “Actually, the pulp gets recycled. Someone takes it and throws it in his garden.”
Hopwood is expanding the operation in a big way. He said he hopes to close this week on 16 acres on County Road 200 S. near Michigan Road to build a winery, distillery, vineyard and a wedding facility. He added that he is working on the zoning for the property that will be built from the ground up.
“It will be something fabulous for the area,” he said.
What’s funny is that Hopwood said he didn’t like wine the first time he tried it.
“I remember my first sip of wine … it didn’t taste good to me,” Hopwood said. “So I certainly acquired a taste to it.”
Hopwood makes all types of wines, but said his Zionsville market seems to prefer the dry wines.
Hopwood Cellars Winery is open from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 1 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 12 E. Cedar St., Zionsville.