Once again, the wine festival at Jane’s Saddlebag was a huge success. Many visitors enjoyed the wine, the music, the vendors, and the food. From 11 AM to 8 PM, there was a stream of wine lovers strolling their way around the booths. Wineries were pouring tastes of some of their most popular varietals.
Even the rain showers that fell on the crowd didn’t stop the fun. People just found shelter until it was over and then walked on to enjoy another wine.
I enjoyed meeting many wine lovers and talking about wine. If you missed it, just wait for next year. Watch for news about the 2016 festival.
Many years ago when we first started visiting wineries, we found French Lick Winery, in French Lick, Indiana. This quickly became one of our favorite wineries. Over the years, both the winery and the town has undergone many changes. For years, the winery was located in a part of the Beechwood Mansion, in French Lick. The rest of the mansion was operated as a bed and breakfast. We began staying at the mansion on our trips to the winery.
We learned much about the history of the town during our stays. French Lick and their next door neighboring town West Baden were both home to major hotels and springs that attracted many visitors from all over the United States in the early 1900s. The town was host to many gamblers and members of the mob seeking a respite when Chicago got too “hot”. Ed Ballard, the owner of West Baden, a huge domed hotel, made his home in the Beechwood Mansion. With Prohibition and a crack down on gambling, the towns suffered a downturn. The Springs in French Lick continued to operate as a hotel, but the towns were kind of passed by. This all changed a few years ago.
West Baden was restored into an absolutely gorgeous hotel, with four floors of rooms overlooking the atrium under the dome, shops, and restaurants on site. The Springs was renovated into a modern hotel with suites, rooms, shops, and restaurants. Golf courses were designed that have attracted many avid golfers and recently hosted the Senior PGA Championships. Added to all of this, a casino was built between the two hotels. The French Lick Resort of French Lick and West Baden has wrought many changes to the towns, such as, new businesses, new activities, and new places to stay. The town is definitely worth a visit. Located just about an hour from Louisville, it is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway.
We still visit every year. This year we celebrated our anniversary with a couple of days in Indiana. For us, though, our trips have changed. The mansion has closed and is no longer operated as a bed and breakfast and the winery has moved. We stayed this year at Legend of French Lick Resort. This resort has an interesting history. Once the home of Larry Bird, who is by the way the real legend from French Lick, the resort has twenty acres with hiking paths, a full-size basketball court, a tennis court, a pool and a pool house. The house contains several suites that are rented singly or the entire house can be rented. We stayed in the owner’s suite, which was once home to Bird.
The winery moved, but is in a building that houses the winery, tasting room, gift shop, and the vintage café. The pizza is amazing and the Pan Bigio is to die for. Everything we’ve tried is excellent. The wine, no matter what your tastes, is exceptional. The winery alone is worth the drive.
I recommend French Lick/West Baden as a wonderful spot for a getaway. There’s something for everyone.
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Last week, on our way to French Lick, we stopped for a visit and tasting at Smith-Berry Vineyard and Winery, in New Castle. The winery is offering tastings of new vintages and a new wine. We tried the dry reds and one is as good as the next one. The new vintage of Burley, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, and Munson, is one of the best vintages. Of course, I say that with every new vintage. The newly released vintage of Brother John, the blend of Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Syrah is also excellent. Both Burley and Brother John were winners of Silver Medals in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. We were also pleased to find a new vintage of Norton, aged for three years in American Oak. The winery has been out of Norton for a while so this was great. As always, this wine is our favorite and this vintage is one of the best we’ve tried. Chuck Smith, the owner and winemaker also had a new wine offering. He was able to get the grapes from Lake County, California, for a Sangiovese. Chuck’s has just a bit of Zinfandel blended to give it a fresh, spicy, and mellow taste.
This winery is one of Kentucky’s finest and a visit there is always enjoyable. What’s not to like, the wine is excellent, the winery is beautiful, the tasting room is inviting, and the people there are friendly and helpful. You will want to find a reason to stop there and relax for a lovely afternoon.
At Prodigy Vineyards and Winery, they are open late on Fridays, serve food, and have entertainment. We had a free afternoon a couple of weeks ago and decided that it was a perfect time for a drive to Frankfort. Chad Peach, owner and winemaker, has introduced a new wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is a smooth, full-bodied, dry red wine, and will be a definite crowd pleaser. After trying a taste of Blueberry, we got a bottle of Lemberger, had some delicious food, and relaxed for a lovely evening while listening to some good music.
The tasting room is open on Fridays from noon to 9 PM. Not only can you get food and wine, but Lenée Peach has filled the tasting room with a large selection of amazing gift selections from t-shirts to artisan offerings. There is definitely something for everyone.
Sip and Savor Fridays are events at Prodigy year around. Good food, good entertainment, and great wine — what a way to wind down after the work week. I recommend getting away for a fun Friday evening, from 6:30 to 8:30.
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Warm weather is here and it’s the perfect time to spend a day strolling through the booths at a wine festival. Jane’s Saddlebag, in Boone County, near Big Bone Lick, is having a wine festival featuring Kentucky wines and crafts, on May 30, from 11 AM to 8 PM. Admission is $15.00, and includes a commemorative glass, 6 tasting tickets, and free parking. Tickets can be purchased at the event or bought from Jane’s website (see my link) early at a discount. In case of a rain day on May 30, the festival will be on Sunday, May 31.
Wineries from around the state will be meeting wine lovers and sharing tastes of their various wines. Some of those who will be at the festival are local, such as: Verona Vineyards, Rose Hill Winery, Atwood Hill Winery, StoneBrook Vineyard and Winery, Elk Creek Vineyards and Winery, and Redman’s Farm Winery. Others, such as, Lovers Leap Vineyard and Winery, Forest Edge Winery, Horseshoe Bend Vineyard and Winery, and Wight-Meyer Vineyard and Winery, will be traveling from Central Kentucky. There will be music provided by local musical groups throughout the day, as well as vendors with crafts and wine related items, and food choices.
I will be there signing A Wine Lover’s Odyssey Across Kentucky. I’d love to meet you and talk about one of my favorite topics – Kentucky wine. Also, you can ask me about the new book I’m working on right now.
Hope to see you there!
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Verona has become a wine lovers destination. No, not the Verona that usually comes to mind, but Verona, Kentucky. For the last few years, wine lovers have been finding their way to Verona Vineyards; now they have another winery to visit less than three miles away. Brianza Gardens and Winery opened their doors to visitors on April 25, 2015. While their address is officially Crittenden, they are just two and a half miles from the Walton exit off of I-75, on Salem Creek Road.
Tony Parnigoni, with a family heritage that traces its roots to an Italian region called Brianza, left the corporate world to fulfill a dream of owning a winery. Four and a half years ago, he purchased a farm in Boone County and began planting his vineyard of over 1900 vines. He, his 3 children, and friends tend the vineyard. Tony is honing his craft as a winemaker with Jim Wight, one of Kentucky’s finest winemakers, as his mentor and consultant.
Last Saturday was such a beautiful day, we decided to visit one of Kentucky’s newest wineries. Brianza Gardens and Winery was a pleasant surprise and good news to this wine lover. New wineries often have this unfinished look to them and their wines are not at their best. This is definitely not true of Brianza. As you arrive at the drive and follow the signs to the parking lot behind the tasting room, you find yourself hoping the wine is good because the place is beautiful. You won’t be disappointed. The tasting room is lovely. I was especially impressed by the unique tasting table that made use of three barrels with an oak top.
As for the wine, most wine lovers will be delighted with the choices and with the quality of the wine. His dry whites, such as Vignoles and Chardonnay are both excellent. The Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel giving it a delightful taste of the grape itself. Tony’s current selection of reds are from grapes purchased from Lovers Leap Vineyard and Winery and are very good, but coming in September he will be offering an estate Noiret. We had the opportunity to try that as well and it will be exceptional. As his grapevines continue to develop, more offerings will be estate varietals as well.
The tasting room is currently open only on Saturdays, 10 to 6, or by appointment. Tony has also created an event venue, with a reception room and a special room created for brides. There is a cottage on the grounds that can be rented as a B & B. In the tasting room, local cheeses and a locally made bread can be purchased for an impromptu picnic. Visitors can wander around the grounds and garden. Look for the website in my Links.
I definitely recommend that wine lovers make plans for a visit to Brianza Gardens and Winery. You will be glad you did.
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Last weekend, we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon visiting wineries in Verona. This was our first trip this spring to Verona Vineyards. There are some changes since our last visit. A new covered seating area outside, and a lovely special wine room are two of the nice additions.
As usual, the atmosphere is inviting, the service friendly, and the wine is excellent. Dan and Peggy Montgomery offer a wide variety of wines for wine lovers. New this year is a Malbec, as well as two red blends. Cabernet Franc and Dornfelder are back and just as popular.
Verona Vineyards is a perfect place to enjoy an afternoon relaxing with a bottle of wine. Check out their link from this site.by admin with No Comments
Though April has been rainy and cold, May is almost here and the weather looks promising. Just the right time to start thinking about visiting wineries.
Mark your calendars — one of Kentucky’s best wine festivals will be May 30, 2015, from 11 AM to 8 PM, at Jane’s Saddlebag in Union, in Boone County.
Watch for more about the festival. I will be writing about the details.by admin with No Comments
Wineries sometimes offer barrel shares of new wines. This means that you purchase a case of the wine while it is still in the barrel. During the aging process, buyers are invited to taste the wine to experience the changes that the wine makes in the barrel. Last year, as a gift for my husband, I purchased a blended red wine from Forest Edge Winery. Butch Meyer, the winemaker, created a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petite Verdot, and 6% Petite Syrah. The wine is called Mes Amis Vin 13. We went over the weekend to bottle the wine. The blend is delicious; a smooth, full-bodied wine with deep red berry flavors.
Forest Edge hosted a breakfast followed by the bottling process. We invited close friends as our guests for the day. My husband bottled his case of wine. It is interesting to have the opportunity to bottle your own wine. This event was an especially enjoyable experience. Forest Edge is offering another barrel share for next year with a vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Forest Edge is one of Kentucky’s finest wineries. It is located in Shepherdsville, just about a mile off I-75, at Exit 112, near Bernheim Forest. Wine lovers will find a lot to like, from their reds to one of the best dry Rieslings I’ve ever had. I certainly recommend Forest Edge Winery.by admin with No Comments
For Kentucky wine lovers looking for a day trip, I recommend French Lick Winery. The winery is located in West Baden, Indiana. Visitors will find it difficult to know if they are in West Baden or French Lick as the towns are side by side. French Lick and West Baden are home to the French Lick Springs Hotel, the West Baden Springs Hotel, and the French Lick Casino. There are also many golf courses, a water park, and a multitude of other activities. But for wine lovers, you can’t beat the French Lick Winery and Vintage Café.
The winery is located in an old factory building so the outside is not as impressive as some wineries you might visit, but don’t be misled. When visitors walk through the doors, they will be impressed by the wine tasting bar, the dining area, the glass front winery, and the gift shop. Wine lovers will find themselves impressed, not to mention happy.
Visitors can start at the tasting bar with a wide variety of wines. Our favorite is the Norton, but their Pinot Gris, Leon Millot, and Traminette are excellent as well. After your tasting, you’ll want to choose a wine and get a table for lunch or dinner. The vintage café offers a full menu of Italian foods. I recommend anything on the menu, but when I’m there, I can’t pass on the pizza. Their pizza is maybe the best I’ve ever tasted. They have marvelous appetizers also. My favorites are the stuffed mushrooms and the All Natural Pan Bigio (a fantastic artisan Italian bread).
After your dining experience, I recommend the gift shop. This gift shop offers the widest variety of wine related gifts of any winery around. Shoppers will love it.
Whether you visit for the day or choose to stay overnight, French Lick and West Baden, Indiana is a great place to go.