Kentucky is synonymous with bourbon, but did you know that you can get some pretty amazing wine in the Bluegrass state? In fact, according to the Kentucky Wine Council, "America’s commercial wine industry was born in Kentucky in 1798 when the Marquis de Lafayette’s winemaker, Jean-Jacques Dufour, set out into the new nation to find suitable land for growing grapes."
In fact, by the late 1800s, Kentucky had become the nation’s third largest grape and wine producer, the Wine Council reports, before Prohibition put Kentucky’s grape and wine industry out of business.
Warren County is now home to three wineries that are all 20 minutes or less from downtown Bowling Green and feature a delicious variety of wines: Traveler's Cellar Winery, Bluegrass Vineyard, and Reid's Livery Winery. All offer free tastings of their delicious wines that you can then purchase by the glass or bottle while also learning about how the proprietors craft their wines.
Traveler's Cellar Winery3220 Fuqua Rd. | Rockfield, KY 42274 Open noon-6pm Thursday-Saturday (starting Aug. 17) By appointment Monday-Wednesday
Warren County's newest winery is hosting its grand opening on Aug. 17. Derrick and Deserea Huff own Traveler's Cellar, a boutique, small-farm winery and vineyard. This 21 and older winery features a custom-built tasting room overlooking the vineyard, or you can buy a glass to drink in the wine cellar or on the patio.
Traveler's Cellar offers seven wines: Sweet Tea (Lusciously Sweet); Strawberry (Sweet); Valvin Muscat (Sweet White); BlackBerry (Semi-Sweet); Vignoles (Semi-Sweet White); Noiret (Dry Red); and Baco Noir (Dry Red). The Sweet Tea wine is a unique, in-house creation that began with the intent of recreating a familiar Southern classic staple for adults to enjoy. The Huffs use Sri Lankan black tea, Argentine lemons, and golden raises for structure color, and flavor in their top secret recipe.
Can't visit Bowling Green yet, but you want to give them a try? They ship to more than 30 states.
Bluegrass Vineyard5016 Smiths Grove Road | Smiths Grove, KY 42171 Open 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday
Drew and Jessica Rogers began making small batches of wine in 2011 at their beautiful vineyard in quaint Smiths Grove. They produce small batches of hand-crafted wines. Their vineyard produces nearly 4,000 pounds of grapes annually — and now you can visit their new tasting room, which opened earlier this month at this family-friendly winery.
Bluegrass Vineyard produces 18 different wines, ranging from sweet whites and rosés like the Loui (made from Traminette and Riesling grapes), Strawberry and Watermelon to dry reds including two new ones: the Bluegrass Red (featuring Chambourcin, Villard Noir, and Noiret grapes) and the Mammoth (primarily Merlot grapes) — you can find the full list and description on their website, where you can also get information on how to get their wines shipped to you.
The Rogers are getting ready to open an AirBnB at the vineyard — what a perfect place for a couple's weekend or a girlfriends' getaway!
Reid's Livery Winery430 Nealy Road | Alvaton, KY 42122 Open daily, by appointment
Reid's Livery Winery is equine and wine by design — this farm winery also features horseback riding lessons. Rex and Diane Reid started their winery in 2009, and they won the Commissioner's Cup for Best Boutique Wine in Kentucky in both 2013 and 2017.
This family-friendly winery features about a dozen different wines, including Black Raspberry (a Gold Medal Winner three years in a row; winner of Kentucky Commissioner's Cup for Boutique Wines), Silver Streak (a white wine made from Moore's Diamond Grapes that won awards at Wines of the South, Western Kentucky Winery Contest, and Florida International), and Peachy Keen (which won the White Fruit Category at the 2012 American Winery Contest in Sonoma, Calif.).
Relax and enjoy a glass of one of these wines in beautiful Alvaton. You can also find Reid's wines at the Community Farmers Market, open on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
Bowling Green has a vibrant agritourism scene, and these three wineries enhance that experience. There are plenty of great places to stay in and around Bowling Green, too, so take your time in Warren County as you explore Traveler's Cellar Winery, Bluegrass Vineyard, and Reid's Livery Winery. Cheers!