Department of Tourism
Discover Your Own Backyard: Wineries Spring Up Across Kentucky
Just six years after becoming a state in 1792, the first vineyard in Kentucky was planted and a new industry took off. By the late 1800s, Kentucky was a leading wine producer in this country.
Prohibition in the 1920s ended the state’s wine production. But the Bluegrass State is bouncing back with 46 wineries across the state that have opened in the last 15 years. Ten are growing grapes and have not begun selling wine.
Some of the vineyards are former tobacco farms whose owners are trying a new crop, according to Stacia Alford, grape and wine marketing specialist for the Department of Agriculture.
The Kentucky Grape and Wine Council recently sponsored four regional commercial Kentucky wine competitions and awarded medals to the top wines that used Kentucky-grown grapes. In August, the Kentucky State Fair will have its first commercial wine competition.
Wine drinkers seem to appreciate products that are grown nearby, Alford said. “The fact that they are purchasing a locally produced product seems to go over well,”
And with the high gas prices, Alford said the wineries make for a great local attraction. “This is the perfect agritourism destination that for many is just a few minutes down the road.”
The good news for tourists – regardless of their drinking preferences -- is that they can see the wineries up close. Many wineries sell their wine, offer tours, provide food and entertainment or other special events. The wineries also host weddings and parties.
As far as wine tasting, no experience is needed.
“We teach everybody in our wine tasting,” said Lou Ann Robinson, manager at Chrisman Mill Vineyards in Nicholasville. Chrisman Mill is located just three miles from Kentucky’s first vineyards developed by Jean Jacques Dufour, winemaker for the Marquis de Lafayette.
Chrisman Mill offers an eight-course Tuscan dinner on July 18 and will be offering a Summer Steak and Shrimp Cookout on July 19. For more information, visit www.chrismanmill.com.
Other winery events coming up in July include:
Smith Berry Winery in New Castle is hosting concerts July 12 (the Rigbys) and July 26 (Johnny Berry and the Outliers). Dinner is also served. For information, visit www.smithberrywinery.com.
Ruby Moon Winery in Henderson is hosting Australian singer and songwriter Martine Locke on July 12. For information visit www.rubymoonwinery.com.
StoneBrook Winery in Camp Springs, near Cincinnati, will offer buffet dinners in its 1890 farmhouse on July 12 and 26. For information, visit www.stonebrookwinery.com.
Equus Run Vineyards at Midway near Lexington presents the Sensations in concert on July 12. For information, visit www.equusrunvineyards.com.
Talon Winery and Vineyards in Lexington will feature Zydeco Bon in concert on July 11. For information, visit www.talonwine.com.
Elk Creek Vineyards at Owenton will host the Motown Revue and Fireworks Show on July 5. For information, visit www.elkcreekvineyards.com.
For more information about all Kentucky wineries, visit www.kentuckywine.com.
This “Discover Your Own Back Yard” travel column is produced twice monthly by the Department of Travel to help promote Kentucky events and travel destinations. For more information about these and other tourism opportunities, visit www.kentuckytourism.com
Editors: To obtain photographs related to this column, please click here.
The Kentucky Department of Travel, an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy.