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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