Our Introduction to Harvest Hosts – Chateau de Pique Winery
Saturday morning Kelly and I woke up debating where we should head next. Monday I start my first day of work (hooray!!). Because of this, it is very important that I have access to a good solid internet connection. We decided we wanted to check out Hoosier National Forest. This area is conveniently close to Bloomington, Indiana, which means we’ll have a nearby wifi-backup in case the 4G connection is poor.
Since I don’t need to put down roots (well, week-long roots) until Monday, we had a little bit of time to hop around the area and check out local attractions. Ideally, we wanted to find an interesting 1-night destination midway between Cincinnati and Hoosier. Enter Harvest Hosts.
Recently, Jason and Nikki Wynn of GoneWithTheWynns hooked us up with a Harvest Hosts membership. Kelly and I were already super excited to try Harvest Hosts, so this was a great surprise. The long and short of it is that you get to stay overnight for free at a local farm, winery, or similar business, and in return you purchase one of their products. This is brilliant for a number of reasons:
1) Instead of paying $20 – 30 to park at a campground over night, you are paying $20 – 30 for a delicious bottle of wine or 2 to consume at your free campsite.
2) You get to support local small businesses.
3) You have the opportunity to meet with and engage with the owners of these businesses, who are often very friendly and welcoming people.
4) You have the chance to engage with other patrons at your location, which means stepping outside of the normal RVer routine.
We used the Harvest Hosts directory to quickly find something in the approximate location we were looking for. We came across Chateau de Pique Winery in Seymour, Indiana, about 45 miles outside of Bloomington. Perfect!
We arrived at about 5:30 on a beautiful cloudless day.
The winery was only open until 6pm so we scurried down to quick check out the selection and have a taste. After we learned about their wine, beer, wifi, and electrical hookups, we realized that the name of this place sounded very familiar. The Wynns had been here just the week before!
The interior was lovely and cozy and decorated in wood. This place is somewhat unique in that they are a brewery as well as a winery – they had 6 of their own brews available. The helpful staff served us plenty of both beer and wine.
Kelly bought a growler of the Bourbon Barrel Oatmeal Stout and a bottle of Hoosier Red for me (Thanks Kelly!!). It was such a beautiful night, we decided to take a walk and wander the grounds for a bit with our beverages.
Max wanted to go too.
We were surrounded by rolling open fields – this place is full of Midwestern charm.
They have a pavillion where you can hold private events, like weddings.
As we strolled back to our home, I have to admit the old Pace Arrow did look pretty nice in the evening light.
Just as we were trying to figure out if it would be possible for us to plug into the nearby electrical outlets, the owner himself, Gregory Pardieck, drove by to visit. He helped us get all plugged in. Then we were lucky enough to get a little tour of the facilities from him, and hear a bit more about the winery, which opened in 2005 and has been quite successful.
As the sun (and the wine) went down, it was thrilling to have the winery grounds all to ourselves. We took a nice walk to see the big open fields illuminated by the sunset, and then night fell. Our first experience with Harvest Hosts was an absolute success, and we’re looking forward to many more in the future.
It’s remarkable how flexible one’s sense of home can be. Our RV is truly a tiny apartment, and with all the window shades closed, it felt like we could have been anywhere. We’ve only been doing this whole RV thing for 10 days, but that seems to be a common theme. If anything, it feels more like home after a day wandering around in a totally unfamiliar environment. The ability to re-position your living room window for a better view is just a nice bonus.