Bourbon or Wine?

Kentucky wine seems like it would be code for bourbon.  That is how closely associated the state is with that liquor.

But wine does exist in the state.  Quite a bit, in fact, nearly 70 wineries exist in the state.  This left me in something of a quandry.  As much as  I love wine, it seemed wrong to skip visiting a distillery.  So when I was driving through Kentucky over the summer, I made sure that I visited both.

First stop?  Jim Beam.

My Dad has been a Jim Beam guy since I can’t remember when.  This stop was de riguer.  I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t go into the actual distillery, but I guess that makes sense.  Plus I saw the sign that said how many days it had been since there was an accident on the site, and I would have liked that number to have been higher. So faked distillery it was and it was informative.  Then we got to go to the tasting room where we tried the Red Stag (black cherry flavored bourbon), the regular Jim Beam and then the super premium Booker.  The Red Stag, was a little girlie.  And the Booker was super smooth.  And the regular Jim Beam?  Well, that is my standard bourbon. ‘nuf said.

Down the road from Jim Beam, I saw a little winery and pulled into the parking lot.  Unlike the distillery, the winery was quiet  I was the only person in the tasting room.  This was a true shame.  Lover’s Leap produces wines from Kentucky grapes that range from sweet to dry, light to full bodied, vinifera and hybrids.  Of the wines that I tasted, far and away the biggest standout was the Cynthiana.  Also called Norton, I got to know this grape when I attended the Drink Local Wine Conference in St. Louis this spring.  While the grape is the state grape of Missouri, it was developed in Virginia and can be found throughout the central part of the United States.

Lover’s Leap’s Cynthiana is a big wine. Think Cabernet.  It is rich and smooth with a long finish and tastes of figs, blackberry and black pepper and at $17.99 a bottle, a good value.

In a addition to the Cynthiana, the winery produces a number award winning wines including a Riesling and Gewurztraminer as well as a number of blends.

I hope that the next time that I go to the winery their parking lot is as full of that at Jim Beam.  They deserve it.

I opened one of the bottles that I purchased about a week ago.  Kevin was grilling steaks and asked me to open a bottle of red.  When he asked what kind I opened, I told him that it was Cynthiana.  He assumed it was from Missouri and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was one of my Kentucky selections.

Good wine from Kentucky?  All you need is an open mind and a willingness to stop in.

Lover’s Leap
1180 Lanes Mill Rd
Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
(502) 839-1299


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One Response to Bourbon or Wine?

  1. The Norton Wine Travelers says:

    What a nice article bringing out not only that Kentucky has wineries, but produces the true American variety Norton (Cynthiana) grape wine. There are now twelve Kentucky Norton wineries and two more coming on board in the near future. Most of these wineries produce Norton wines from in-state grapes and one that \imports\ their grapes from Arkansas. After tasting 113 different Norton wines from ten states, we have especially enjoyed two of the eight Kentucky Norton wines we’ve tasted from Lover’s Leap Winery and Elk Creek Vineyards. River Valley Winery also makes an enjoyable lighter folk Norton wine. What made visiting Kentucky wineries so delightful was the people we encountered. Genuine smiles sell so many bottles and this was especially true at Lover’s Leap Winery. FYI, there are to date (10/2011) 248 Norton wineries in 24 states.