Writer / Michelle Kaufman
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Mallow Run Winery sits on a 600-acre farm in Bargersville that has been in the Richardson family since 1835.
The winery’s name, Mallow Run, is a creek that runs through the property and was named after owner Bill Richardson’s great-great-great grandfather, George Mallow, who settled on the property in 1835.
“The creek was named after him at some point, I actually found that [out] on a map when I was a student at Purdue,” Bill says. “I didn’t know that the creek even had a name.”
Bill Richardson and his wife, Laura, opened the winery in 2005, but the first acre of grapes was planted on the property in 2000 after Bill’s father, John Richardson, saw an article that said Indiana winemakers wanted farmers to grow grapes.
“That was my plan, to just grow grapes,” John says. “Then Bill and his to-be wife were interested in doing more than just growing grapes, so the winery just kinda grew out of that.”
Bill knew he wanted to come back and do something on the family farm after graduating from Purdue, so he read about wine making and worked at Oliver Winery as he learned how to make his own.
Laura said the intentions were to keep the winery small at the beginning, but as the community and customer support have grown, so has the business.
“We’ve just tried to listen and grow and just evolve with what the community has told us that they enjoy,” Laura says. “It’s definitely been stages of growth and change, and I think we’re open to continuing to change and evolve.”
One of the things Mallow Run is most known for is their weekend events. On Saturday nights during the summer, there is a concert and either pizza or food trucks. Some are free admission, and others are ticketed. People are free to bring a picnic or buy food at the event.
“We learned if there’s food and there’s music that people come,” Laura says. “We kinda kept thinking, ‘alright, what can we do with food and music that’s welcoming for everyone and hopefully will appeal to lots of different kinds of people?’ We do a Picnic Concert series that starts Memorial Day weekend and runs all the way through the end of September.”
On Sunday afternoons, there is also music on the patio from 2-5 p.m. during the nicer months of the year. For the first time this year, Mallow Run will host a Red, White and Blueberry Festival during Fourth of July weekend, where they will unveil their limited edition blueberry wine and have fireworks.
Around 3,000 people also participate in Wine At the Line, an annual 5k run/walk around Mallow Run’s property followed by a post-race party. A different charity every year is supported with the proceeds. This year’s run is on September 30.
In addition to community events, Mallow Run is also available for private events. The tasting room is available to host events after hours. The Sycamore at Mallow Run, an event venue, opened last summer and is almost exclusively built to host corporate fundraiser events and weddings.
“We saw as we were in this space that we just had so much demand for those type of events,” Bill says. “We didn’t have the space to do it or we didn’t have the time to do it. Weddings normally want to be on Saturday night, where we had our own concerts that were conflicting so we decided to build something separate. [The Sycamore is] a quarter mile, half mile away so we can still have outdoor activities in both spots and they don’t interfere with each other.”
Laura enjoys the relationships she’s formed with the employees of the winery and her customers.
“Just to see people here enjoying the space, relaxing, taking a break from their daily grind and just being themselves, it’s fun to get to know people and be able to share a place that’s been special to Bill’s family for so many years and is now special to me too,” Laura says.
Mallow Run started canning wine last year for the Indy 500 and has continued doing so, and they also can cider.
“Canned wine is great for picnic season,” Laura says. “And that’s kind of our motto — work hard, picnic often.”