The McDowell House Museum began its life as the home of Dr. Ephraim McDowell. While he lived on its premises, during the nation’s early days, Dr. McDowell pioneered the ovariotomy, a medical treatment unheard of in 19th-century clinics. On Christmas morning in 1809, he surgically removed a 22-pound tumor from the ovary of Jane Todd Crawford—the first procedure of its type ever successfully performed.
Today, Dr. McDowell’s house stands as a monument to his medical mind and the people that it saved. On tours through the museum—which is furnished in turn-of-the-century antiques and early medical equipment—guides explain the doctor's lifesaving procedures while strolling through the home’s restored Georgian interior. Guests can wander through Dr. McDowell’s medical office, search for old-fashioned remedies in his apothecary shop next door, and recuperate from their exertions in the formal gardens. The apothecary shop contains more than 200 pieces of antique medical equipment including a leech jar, early American mortars and pestles, and fossilized tongue depressors. The house and its grounds also overlook Constitution Square State Park, which contains the first post office west of the Alleghenies along with replicas of an early jailhouse and courthouse.
Since 1997, Neil and Rachel Vasilakes have been growing fresh fruit with minimal pesticides on 30 acres of rolling farmland. With the grapes, berries, apples, and peaches that grow there, they craft 22 wines. Included in these are nine dry reds, which range from medium to robust, as well as such dry whites as chardonnay and seyval blanc. Neil, the primary winemaker, also enjoys exploring unusual varietals, fermenting small quantities of inventive recipes for his Black Barrel Reserve collection. Though they frequently rotate, these wines sometimes include peach mead, port wine aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, and black walnut wine aged in Maker's Mark barrels. The winery is also known for Neil's blackberry, strawberry, and blueberry wines.
Within their tasting room, they serve up cheese pairings to complement the flavors of the wines, several of which won silver and bronze medals at the 2009 Kentucky State Fair Commercial Wine Contest. Believing that no good thing should go to waste, they repurpose some wines from the tasting room into gourmet cooking vinegars.
With a 30-acre vineyard and more than 10 vino varieties, Lovers Leap wines please palates and complement fine dining with every sip. With this deal, fermentation fans take a guided tour of Lovers Leap’s facilities, catching a behind-the-scenes peek at the oak barrels that produce Kentucky’s sweet nectar. Stroll down the soft-rolling rows of vines or enjoy the expansive view from the building's wraparound porch, a scene that has been depicted by famed Kentucky impressionist painter Paul Sawyier and will be furthered immortalized by post-modernist robot-painters of the 22nd century.
Two penguins, clad in garish hats and coats, square off on the Pimpin Penguins Riesling's tongue-in-cheek label. The dry white wine, tinged with fruity tones, pairs best with potato chips, blue cheese, Chinese dumplings, and jalape?o poppers, according to its winemakers. That sense of whimsy?paired with a dedication to winemaking?is evident in all the wines produced at Horseshoe Bend Vineyards and Winery. The vintners never take their craft too seriously, and the proof is in their other playful wines and labels, such as the Red Jester Chambourcin-Malbec, which pairs well with pasta, and Kong's Thong Norton, excellent with a steak hot off the grill.
With its rustic architecture and soft, rolling hills of vines, Chrisman Mill Vineyards brings a little taste of Tuscany to the Bluegrass State. Amidst hand-painted murals of Tuscan landscapes, guests in the tasting room pair ciccetti, or Italian tapas, with sips of local wine made from the best Kentucky grapes. The laid-back environment encourages visitors to savor the small pleasures in life, as do the staff, who entertain with amusing anecdotes and enlightening descriptions of how each wine is made. At the winery in Hamburg Pavilion, guests can also browse Kentucky-made goods as well as more than a thousand winery gift items, including customized gift baskets.
Talon Winery's Lexington and Shelbyville locations offer visitors a unique wine-tasting experience. At the Lexington location, visitors can follow the entire winemaking process from vine to bottle, while strolling through a lush five-acre vineyard. The vineyard features a gift shop, and guests are welcome to a wine tasting in the historical tasting house. At the Shelbyville location, guests can sample wine in a modern tasting room adorned with a barrel ceiling. Despite the contemporary decor, the tasting room is set against the small-town charm of the city. Like the Lexington location, the Shelbyville location features a gift shop to peruse.