I grew up on spring water, fresh raw milk, homemade tomato juice from a huge Kentucky garden, and homemade grape juice from a few prolific Concord vines. My great-grandfather served time in a federal prison rather than pay tax on his private still -- private, at least, as far as I know -- but I didn't get around to trying Kentucky's wine, beer, and spirits until I was fairly sure I wouldn't yield to the alcoholism that hurt a lot of people in my teetotaling parents' families. I thought 50 years was long enough to wait to be sure. Don't you think that's long enough? Nudged forward by a medical person who thinks a glass of red wine a day is a gentler blood tonic than aspirin, well into middle age, or past it, I began my own little exploration of wine.
Kentucky has a long history as a wine-producing state, but the wine-making art, markets, land, and infrastructure has only begun to revive nearly 100 years after Prohibition put the state's vineyards out of business. I am eager to learn and taste along with the inspiring, courageous new Bluegrass grape growers, wine makers, and wine marketers.
What fun, visiting vineyards and wine tasting rooms, meeting the people who are making a new industry in Kentucky, and saving their land and local economies in the process.
Kentucky Bourbon somehow did not suffer the same near-death experience - but bourbon, too, is benefitting from Kentucky's new investment and support of industries that grow from our soil and water - and that are not tobacco. Premium bourbons and distilleries are intriguing, attracting plenty of national attention from tourism and food mavens.
We have beer, too - and maybe we will have more. So far Kentucky's beer is made with products grown in other states, but we may see that change in the near future, as the superior taste of "all things Kentucky" continues to make itself known.