A Guide to Wine Tasting in Kentucky

Most people who know anything about Kentucky or bourbon know that there’s just something in the water that makes everything great.

Many of the distilleries in this area have failed to make the same successful product elsewhere – and they really do attribute that to the water supply.

The same goes for Kentucky’s thriving wine tasting scene. In addition to some great bed and breakfasts, you can also do plenty of wine tours. Here are just a few of the wineries you won’t want to miss when you are going wine tasting in Kentucky.

Wine Tasting in Kentucky

  1. Baker-Bird Winery & Distillery
  2. Fancy Farm Vineyard and Winery
  3. Purple Toad Winery
  4. Up the Creek Winery
  5. 12 Mile Creek Winery
  6. Castle Hill Winery
  7. Brianza Gardens

1. Baker-Bird Winery & Distillery

baker-bird winery
Image: bakerbirdwinerydistillery

Here, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Baker-Bird is a working distillery as well as a winery, so you can see how both products are made.

They also have a beautiful on-site restaurant that overlooks the vineyards, so you can enjoy a meal with your wine.

They say people come for the wine, but stay for the sunset, and that couldn’t be more true. A picturesque view of the vineyards with that trademark Kentucky Bluegrass blowing in the wind makes for the perfect backdrop to your evening.

Baker-Bird is the oldest commercial winery in America that still has its original vineyard land, so when you’re relaxing with your glass of award-winning wine or barrel-aged bourbon, relish the history you’re a part of.

It’s the only winery to have survived a Civil War Battle on the grounds and the only winery building on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Johannes Becker was a distiller who came to Pennsylvania on The Chance. He fought in the American Revolution as John Baker, and his grandson, Abraham opened the winery in the 1850s.

This winery hosts dinner in their cellars, the oldest cellars in America, and you can also join them for a food pairing to learn more about your favorite wines. Don’t skip the tour either, because it’s spectacular.

2. Fancy Farm Vineyard and Winery

fancy farm vineyard and winery

I’d say this winery has a penchant for stating the obvious. After all, it’s located in Fancy Farm, Kentucky and it is a fancy farm.

Rather than growing corn or soy, they grow grapes. You don’t typically see a vineyard calling itself a farm, but I like it. It’s one of the reasons I just had to stop in.

The owner, Tom Curtsinger, is a fourth-generation Kentucky landowner, but he didn’t have any interest in grapes until he visited some wineries just across the Indiana state line.

He caught the grape-growing bug, asked a lot of questions, and then decided to prove the experts wrong when they told him that Vinifera vines (European varietals) wouldn’t grow in Kentucky.

Today he has six acres and seven different European varietals growing successfully, and you can try them all in the tasting room.

Before you visit, check the calendar for weekly events like trivia night, live music, and more. They also host baby showers, birthday parties, paint and sips, and other private events.

3. Purple Toad Winery

purple toad winery
Image: purpletoadwinery

Who wouldn’t want to visit a winery called the Purple Toad? Count me in. This winery got its name from the color of your toes when you press grapes the old-fashioned way, a la the popular scene from I Love Lucy.

Owners June and Allen didn’t set out to open a winery. He was an insurance agent and she took care of their son. After a few days in the gorgeous Napa Valley, they simply decided to plant their own private vineyard back home in 1998.

As the vineyards grew and the yield increased, they had an excess that they certainly couldn’t drink themselves, and in 2008, they began construction on their commercial winery and tasting room.

This is by no means a huge operation but that’s one of my favorite things about it, besides the fun name. When you arrive, you don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated. You feel at home.

Another unique thing about the Purple Toad is that they’ll even craft a custom wine for you. They love trying new things at the customer’s request and because they’re so agile, they have over 40 wines available to try at any given time.

They offer tastings and tours during all business hours and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

4. Up the Creek Winery

up the creek winery

I’d say I don’t ever want to be stuck up a creek, figuratively speaking. But boy did I want to be up this creek! If there’s wine at the end, I’m there. The coolest thing about this winery is the story.

In 2002, two brothers purchased 300 acres of farmland called Possum Hollow. This land had been used to grow tobacco since early prohibition. In its early days of tobacco growing, the only way to get to this farm was up the dry Norris Branch Creek bed.

The brothers wanted to revive this rich and fertile soil for a vineyard. The new vines were planted in 2003, the first grapes were harvested in 2006, and the first commercially available wines were sold in 2010.

The land in this valley closely resembles that of many of the world’s best-growing regions, like Spain and France.

There are more than 1200 grapevines on the property today as well as 700 blackberry and red raspberry bushes. They make a Golden Muscat, Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Vignoles, and Marquette.

5. 12 Mile Creek Winery

12 mile creek winery
Image: 12milecreekwinery

Aside from wine, a great margarita is one of my favorite beverages. You may deduce then that I’m a fan of Mexican food. And the more jalapeños, the better.

But never in a million years would I have thought you could put jalapeños and wine together.

12 Mile Creek Winery did it, and they did it successfully. They’re now famous for their Jalapeño Wine Bloody Marys. And in keeping with this theme, their tasting room looks like a cute Mexican bungalow.

Plop me down in the middle of what looks to be the Mexican countryside with wine and jalapeños, and you’ll never hear from me again.

They also have other favorites like blackberry wine, Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Catawba. They enjoy blending new ideas with old family recipes to create something unique.

6. Castle Hill Winery

castle hill winery

Pamper yourself with a stay at The Kentucky Castle and make a day of it touring the grounds of the Castle Hill Winery.

These vineyards started as a family project for a couple and their eight children, but it quickly grew into something more.

The full experience includes sitting on the patio, overlooking the vineyard, and sipping on something from Medieval times, like their Camelot wine. They also offer traditional whites, reds, and other fruit wines.

They feature live music every Friday with a different artist and a different menu each week. They are also happy to host large parties for a family event while you’re in town.

7. Brianza Gardens

brianza gardens
Image: brianzagardens

Sip and stay at the luscious Brianza Gardens. They offer wine tastings anytime during normal business hours and you can even pair your wine with locally made cheese, pretzels, crackers, or summer sausage.

There’s live music nearly every weekend and they occasionally have private barrel tastings. If you’re in the area, check the calendar to make sure you don’t miss one of these exclusive events!

Exploring the gardens will transport you to Tuscany and you may even meet the two Brittany pups who call this winery home. Picnic packages for two complete this romantic getaway.

If you’re up for a tour, it’s given by the owner himself, who loves to share his knowledge of the wine-making process and take you behind the scenes into what makes his wines award-winning.

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