Bourbon, Derby, and Wine!

Truth be told, wine is not one of the first things that come to mind when someone mentions Kentucky. Renowned for Bourbon and horses, grapes and wine were an important part of the state’s history from the start. America’s commercial wine industry was born in Kentucky in 1798 when the Marquis de Lafayette’s winemaker, Jean-Jacques Dufour, set out into the new nation to find suitable land for growing grapes. Dufour formed the Kentucky Vineyard Society and bought 600 acres on the Kentucky River, in what’s now Jessamine County. Dufour planted what he called the “First Vineyard” and, in 1803, his first vintage went to an appreciative Thomas Jefferson.

Fast forward 200 plus years, Kentucky is once again reclaiming its proud heritage. In just 5 years, the number of Kentucky wineries have grown from 15 to more than 50, with grapevine acreage experiencing similar growth. Kentucky’s geography, climate and soil make it suitable for growing a wide variety of grapes, although French-American hybrids lead the way, especially the popular Chambourcin and Vidal Blanc.

This week will taste some of Kentucky’s best and hopefully persuade you to pour a Kentucky wine for this years Derby. Cheers!


* The above video is from the video web series, “Vintage Kentucky Tastings” produced by

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