We finally went to a winery in Kentucky during this last trip. I know you are probably saying to yourself; they have wine in Kentucky, I thought they only had Bourbon. While it is true that most people think of Kentucky for Bourbon, every state in the union has at least one winery; and actually, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has seventy wineries. I know this, because when we stopped for some tastings at Smith-Berry Winery and they gave us a wine tour guide for all of Kentucky. The first commercial winery in the United States was founded by John James Dufour in 1799 in Kentucky. One of my Bride’s sisters and her husband came with us to enjoy the change of scenery. The winery actually encourages people to have picnics on the grounds, or eat some of the food that they offer, and they really encourage the picnickers to have a glass or a bottle of wine during the meal. The winery also had a calendar of concerts and dinners on the grounds to definitely make a day of your visit. You know, that I tend to be shy, almost like a wall flower when I am out and about, and surprisingly we ended up meeting a couple that have actually gone to all seventy wineries and were now doing a second tour. I was surprised to find out that most of the wine that they produce at Smith-Berry Winery is not estate grown, in fact most was not Kentucky grown, but we were there and it is always interesting to try wines.
The winery was offering fourteen different grape wines while we were there and four fruit wines (not grape, and I know that grapes are a fruit). The winery had the wines broken down into Sweet Whites and Blush, Sweet Sparkling’s, Semi-Sweet Whites, Dry Whites, Semi-Sweet Reds and Dry Reds. The Tasting Fee was six wines for $6.00, and this was waived if one made a purchase. According to my notes we ended up tasting ten wines, I guess that I am incorrigible and a known rebel for breaking the rules where ever I go. The wines were priced from $11.95 to $15.95, so there was no wine that was going to break the bank. The wines that I will mention were not in the order that we tasted, because we were bouncing around and then they wanted us to try this and try this one as well, and several of their wines had won medals at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Of all the wines that we tasted only one carried a Kentucky designation, the rest had American on the label and all of the wines were Non-Vintage, as to the best of my understanding, if you are not in an AVA, you cannot list a vintage.
The first wine that I will mention was the Blackberry wine and since this was actually the first berry wine that I have had, I had no real basis, but I found it to be off in the nose and semi-sweet, but not a wine that I would search for, but I am sure that there are plenty of people out there that enjoy this type of beverage. The Sparkling Moscato NV I had to try, to see if we needed some for the house for our guests that don’t like dry wines. The wine was carbonated to achieve that frizzante finish and the wine was better than I expected. The Drennon Creek NV was an interesting wine in their Sweet White category and it was a Stainless-Steel aged blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Vidal Blanc. The other Sweet White that we tried was the Vignoles, and the fruit came from Missouri and we thought it was the winner of the day, especially for some of our dinner guests, and we bought six bottles of this wine. The Riesling was semi-sweet and was aged inn Stainless Steel, so the fruit came through. The Pinot Grigio was a nice, but light version of the type of wine I was expecting, but with a good nose and a finish that reminded me of green apples. The Chardonnay was a very fine bottle of white wine with about twelve months of aging in a mix of French and American Oak barrels. This was a very nice bottle of Chardonnay, creamy and tones of Vanilla and in a blind tasting I may have called it a California wine, and the fruit may have come from there. The only Kentucky wine that we had was from the Semi-Sweet Red category and it was the Estate Grown Chambourcin and it was a tasty wine for this sometimes forgettable grape, and the other Estate Grown wine was the Norton, which they were sold out of, and I would have liked to have tried it, because I have enjoyed the tasting of that grape when the wine is done well. The Petit Sirah was a good inky-dark wine that was aged for eight months in a mix of French and American Oak and it was a nice and easy drinking wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for twelve months in French Oak and for its price was a good solid wine that could compete with a lot of the popular priced Cabs that are out there. While I was a bit disappointed that my first Kentucky wine did not really offer a lot of Kentucky grown grapes, it did display the quality work and passion of the Smith-Berry Winery to put out a very nice and affordable collection of wines.