Trip & Sip: 5 Reasons why Kentucky wine country is your next destination to drink up
Move over, moonshine, and say bye-bye to bourbon, because Kentucky’s wine industry is making waves in the heartland. Although America’s first commercial wine industry was born in Kentucky, it was abandoned after Prohibition made it a dry state. Booming once again, the industry is now home to charming wineries that are blending history and heritage, as well as grapes.
Take a trip into Kentucky’s wine country, where you can experience wine from vine to bottle through tours and tastings. Here are the top reasons to make Kentucky your next wine country travel destination.
1. The History
In 1798, the Marquis De Lafayette (a man recently re-cemented in history with his role in the Broadway smash sensation, Hamilton) sent his winemaker, Jean-Jacques Dufour, to America to find land that would sustain grape growing. Dufour arrived in Lexington, Kentucky, and, finding suitable land on which to start this new venture, began work. Only a few years later, in 1803, his first bottles were delivered to Thomas Jefferson, who greatly appreciated this new American vintage. Sadly, Prohibition brought the party to a stop in 1920. Walk amongst the ghosts of these giants as you visit the wineries that are on the land of our forefathers.
2. The Northern Kentucky Back Roads Wine Trail
The backroads are the best roads on this stunning trail that takes you to five unique wineries in northern Kentucky. Start your tour at the historic StoneBrook Winery, located just twenty minutes south of Cincinnati, Ohio. Family owned and operated, this 130-year-old farm has seen many crops come and go, but they now serve their award-winning wine in the tasting room that sits in an 1890s era house. When you’re done at StoneBrook, head to the Baker-Bird Winery, which is on the United States National Historic Registry, the Civil War Heritage Trail, and the Freedom Trail. The stone building where it serves its wine was once used as a safe haven during the Civil War. Other wineries on this tour include Seven Wells, Atwood, and Camp Springs Vineyard and Winery.
3. Southern Charm
There’s nothing more charming than the Kentucky bluegrass region, home to hundreds of horse farms and the Kentucky River. What better way to enjoy all that the region has to offer than with a trip to Equus Run Vineyards. With its rolling fields of bluegrass, adorable stone fences, and gorgeous nearby horse farms, it’s the perfect place to visit and sip on award-winning wines in a picturesque setting. Relax, and take a tour through the renovated tobacco barn winery that showcases the wine production facility. If you’re hungry, make sure to book a picnic, during which you can stroll the grounds and the nearby South Elkhorn Creek.
4. Eat Up
Kentucky wine country has more sophisticated offerings on the table than just fried chicken and many wineries offer food. Jean Farris is a restaurant, winery, vineyard and farm that serves up a delicious fine dining experience unlike any other in the region. On the estate they grow their own herbs, vegetables, fruits, and over twenty types of heirloom tomatoes, all finding their way onto an ever-changing seasonal menu. Quaint yet modern, Jean Farris’ delicious house-made charcuterie and Kentucky cheese board pairs perfectly with the estate’s own wines. Other wineries serving up tasting dining options include Bullitt’s Winery & Bistro, Farmer & Frenchman Winery and Eddy Grove Vineyard.
5. Music Among the Vines
A number of wineries and vineyards are getting into the entertainment game, with live music being offered through the summer months. Elk Creek Vineyards, known for offering over 20 varieties of wine, has a number of respected musicians coming this summer. Brooks Hill Winery (otherwise known as the little winery on top of the hill) has an Elvis impersonator performing in August at its free live concert series. Finally, the Talon Winery, with two locations in Shelbyville and Lexington, encourages visitors to bring a picnic and enjoy local bands and artists, as well as a glass of their Talon wine. Their live music series runs all year long, rain or shine.