Kentucky Wines Celebrated in Style
The first Celebration of Kentucky Wines was held on October 9th at The Olmsted in Louisville. This event featured the debut of a new Kentucky Wine documentary and a fascinating presentation about the history of the Kentucky commercial wine industry, which is over 200 years old.
“Unbridled Vines” -the new Kentucky wine documentary replaces an award-winning film that was shot five years ago. During this time, the Kentucky wine industry has grown to approximately 70 wineries and 150,000 case per year production.
‘While the first documentary focused heavily on the oddity of Kentucky wine and former tobacco farmers turning to vineyards, this documentary is focused more on Kentucky becoming a serious wine region,” said Tyler Madison of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Grape and Wine Marketing Program.
See: Unbridled Vines
After dinner, Tom Beale gave a fascinating presentation on the history of Kentucky wine. Beale is the owner and operator of The First Vineyard in Nicholasville. According to Beale, First Vineyard is the first commercial winery in the U.S.
First Vineyard was surveyed by Daniel Boone in 1783, but other famous founding father’s are involved in the winery’s story. Jean-Jacque Dufour, the Swiss immigrant who started the winery in 1798, was funded by Henry Clay, who was the U.S. secretary of state under John Quincy Adams and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1800’s.
Thomas Jefferson received bottles from the First Vineyard while in the White House and commented on its quality. “Thomas Jefferson said Kentucky wine was a good as any in France,” Beale said. “And since Jefferson was Ambassador to France, he would know.”
The winners of the Commissioner’s Cup Wine Competition were also presented at the Celebration. To be in this Kentucky wine competition, 75% of the fruit used to make the wine must come from Kentucky. The competition had a record 490 entries in 2014.
Best Dry Red: Old 502 Winery (Louisville), Bourbon Barrel Red, Chambourcin Blend
Best Dry White: Wight-Meyer Vineyard and Winery (Shepardsville), Vignoles
Best Rose/Blush Wine: StoneBrook Winery (Camp Springs), Dry Rose 2013.
Best Dessert/Sweet Wine: Wight-Meyer Vineyard and Winery (Shepardsville), Pine Creek Summer
Best Small Production Wine– Baker-Bird Winery (Augusta), Kentucky Black Barrel
Eddie O’Daniel won the Jean Jacques Dufour Award given to the winemaker or grape grower who has the most personal involvement in improving the Kentucky Wine Industry. O’Daniel is the founder and owner of Springhill Winery in Bloomfield. From 2007 to 2010, he was the president of the Kentucky Wineries Association and he was also the president of the Kentucky Vineyard Society from 1994 to 1996.
Tom Cottrell, the enology extension specialist for the University of Kentucky, concluded the event with an optimistic outlook for Kentucky wine: ‘The future of our industry is upward; every winery in Kentucky that is having success is expanding. However, we need to get better at the science of making wine.”