Joshua Ratliff | Director of Culinary Arts and Events | Indianapolis, Indiana
Tell Us About Your Space.
We’re located at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, situated on a 152-acre estate purchased by the pharmaceutical family, Eli Lilly. The grounds include an art museum; park; the Playhouse, which is a 1930s recreational building; and a 1940s greenhouse. Visiting here is a state of mind. Once visitors come onto our campus, their minds are open to taking in something new. It would be a mistake not to complement that experience with our wine selections. The Beer Garden has been up and running for about four years and one of our fan favorites is Gotham Project wine, which we serve from stainless steel kegs.
Your Wine Program Is A Big Draw For Locals. What Else Do You Offer?
We deliver high-touch events with higher price point wines that are not mass-marketed. Our donors and patrons like to hear the interesting stories behind the wine. We have done the curatorial work for them. Another program is our Pop Up food gallery, which we’ve hosted annually for three years. Each year brings a different theme and food and beverage options. One year, for example, we featured Tea House—emphasizing the teas of Japan in harmony with several of the museum’s 2019 exhibitions. Winterlights is an outdoor experience that draws over 140K people during the holiday season each year.
What Type Of Wine Do You Drink?
My favorite varietal is Champagne. We sold a lot of R.H. Coutier around Mother’s Day, and I find it’s fuller bodied and a great value. There is increasing complexity with Champagne as the price goes up. Coutier is offered as a value option, but audiences on “the bubble” tend to convert after trying it.
How Did You Get Your Start In The World Of Wine?
I have worked in restaurants since I was 15. Years later, an afternoon tasting allowed me to open a 2015 Rioja Reserva, and I have been captivated by wine ever since. Through my role at Cummins, my eyes were opened to—and intrigued by—other cultures. With the Cummins hospitality team, I participated in a chef’s apprenticeship, then spent three years earning my Level 2 with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
You've Known Vanguard For Years.
I began working with Vanguard Wines in 2012 while in a Corporate Hospitality role for Cummins. When I transitioned to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, it absolutely made sense to continue our partnership based on the opportunity to integrate high-quality wines into our beverage program. We have hosted Vanguard’s Portfolio Show and were heartbroken to cancel in 2020 and 2021. I especially look forward to seeing Silvia Altare and cannot wait for her to come back and pour her wines.