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.
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.