to the Kentucky Department of Tourism, Kentucky was the site of
America's first commercial vineyard, planted in 1798 by the winemaker
for the Marquis de Lafayette.
By the late 1800's, Kentucky was the third
largest grape and wine producer in the United States. Prohibition hit the regions wine industry
as it did in many other American states. Vineyards were either uprooted and converted to cash
crops or abandoned throughout the state.
Today, through a cost-share program supported
by the State of Kentucky's Vineyard Assistance Program, over 250 acres of grapes have been planted
in Kentucky, like the Chrisman Mill Vineyards & Winery near Lexington, Kentucky, above.
According to the University of Kentucky the
most common wine grapes grown in Kentucky are American cultivars Concord, Niagara, Norton; Hybrids
Cayuga white, Chambourcin, Chardonel, M. Foch, Traminette, Seyval, Vidal blanc, Vignoles; and
European cultivars Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Although Kentucky has not caught up to other
wine producing areas, more than a dozen commercial wineries have taken root, primarily in the
fertile central bluegrass region, but also in the northern and eastern parts of the state.
Will Kentucky wines one day become as popular as fine Kentucky bourbon? As they say in the vineyard, time will tell.
Meanwhile, there are already many Kentucky wineries where
visitors can enjoy wine tours and tastings and you can look forward to more cropping up every
More information about Kentucky wine around the Web:
Tourism - Wine - Just scroll down to the wine category for a good rundown of the Kentucky
wineries and vineyards with details on wine tasting tours, events and visitor
hours with links to official Web sites.