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.
Ensconcing visitors in spacious rooms surrounded by 30 lush acres of grapevines, Elk Creek Vineyards merges the grandeur of Napa Valley with Kentucky hospitality. Among three discrete lodgings, the Estates' wraparound deck sounds the creak of rocking chairs, the Inn's communial living room welcomes late-night conversation, and the Lodge's private decks open up onto vineyard and lake. Live entertainment every Friday and Saturday keeps eardrums occupied, and a gallery exhibits the creations of local artists. During tastings and tours, guests sample the vineyard's products and stroll through the fields, popping grapes to figure out which ones are alcoholic.
The gourmands at Mermaids Bar and Bistro present a menu full of rich New American fare and southern-inspired cuisine against a cozy bistro backdrop replete with partially bricked walls and small, homey tables. Duos and quartets inaugurate feasts with starters including fried green tomatoes (an $8 value) and JR’s tempura cocktail (a $12 value)—jumbo shrimp flanked by sweet thai sauce and spicy wasabi. Popular entrees, such as the seared Atlantic salmon fillet (a $20 value) or the chorizo-anchored creole risotto (a $17 value) tastily exercise long-dormant mouth muscles and heirloom forks brought from home.
Beer Engine Microbrewery & Tap's resident beer buffs conjure signature batches of oat sodas that are brewed in-house. Sip on a quartet of samples from Beer Engine's five microbrews, which range from Freedom Ranger pale and King George's nut brown ale to Kirkner's amber––a quintessentially American brew made purely from waves of grain. Souvenir pint glasses hold aloft foamy fermentations such as virtue porter or czechvar, and half-gallon growlers allow sippers to tote their two favorite potables home and may be returned and refilled later for a fee of $11.
Kentucky Wine Tours' knowledgeable guides open eyes and palates to the birthplaces of Kentucky's distinct wines and whiskeys, from the sun-kissed vineyards to the cellars stocked with oak barrels. Continuing a proud tradition begun during Prohibition, when bootleggers offered illegal tours of their moonshine-filled bathtubs, the all-inclusive excursions wend through everything from award-winning wineries to such famous distilleries as Wild Turkey and Maker's Mark. Named one of the 10 "classic American experiences" by CNN.com, bourbon tours travel along the historic Kentucky Bourbon Trail, surrounded by the historic buildings and limestone-rich rivers that lend the state's bourbons their distinct citrusy flavor.