When visitors walk between the 1853 Greek-revival mansion’s six solid-cut stone pillars, onto the portico, and through the heavy wood door, they might tour the rooms or learn to cook in its original kitchen. Originally founded by John Harding in 1807 for thoroughbred-horse breeding, the rolling grounds of Belle Meade Plantation now welcome seasonal tours and events ranging from book signings to art shows. Knowledgeable guides in period costumes lead tour groups through the building’s parlors and bedrooms and down a long central hallway to ascend the three floors via a circular cherry-wood staircase.
As groups wander the mansion and cross the grounds, guides divulge facts about famous visitors, such as President Cleveland and General Ulysses S. Grant, including the fact that they probably got scared of the dark just like normal people. During special tours, the staff demonstrates Southern cooking techniques and walks visitors through an herb garden or serves them lemonade or hot wassail with desserts. In an on-grounds winery, winemakers hold tastings of red and white varietals made from Tennessee grapes. Visitors can also clink wineglasses over Southern-style cuisine at the Harding House restaurant, located on the plantation grounds.
After marrying into an Italian family, Let's Make Wine owner Cheryl Lisi discovered winemaking and, at the behest of friends, opened her own shop where everyone could participate in the art. Her stock includes a menu of winemaking kits for varietals from around the globe, such as riesling, Chilean malbec, and Lisi's favorite, Italian sangiovese, stomped with Gucci loafers. In addition to wine-crafting opportunities, Lisi hosts wineglass-painting classes and will soon add beer-brewing supplies to the store's inventory.
The two-bedroom, newly renovated farmhouse at Blue Heron Vineyards safeguards guests in a rural, picturesque setting amid turn-of-the-century barns and vintage outbuildings. Guests have their choice of enjoying a homemade breakfast in the farmhouse, from the tree house-like deck of the winery, or lakeside while served by a wait staff of bullfrogs trained at L'Ambroisie in Paris. Spend an afternoon casually strolling through the vineyard grounds spread across a high bluff near the Ohio River, or visit the property's large Celtic cross, carved from natural stone over a 23-month period by local sculptor Greg Harris. Visitors calm their outdoors obsessions by fishing and canoeing at the nearby Deer Creek or exploring the Hoosier National Forest along scenic hiking and biking trails teeming with towering trees, wildlife, and ringleted porridge thieves.
When Tommy and Debbie McIntyre moved into the family farm in 1987, they casually started making wine from wild berries on their land. But as the years went by, their love for winemaking grew and the amount of wild berries declined. So the pair decided to fill their farm with blueberry and blackberry vines so they could make their fruit wines in earnest. Today, they specialize in blueberry and blackberry wines, made from handpicked, sun-ripened fruits in a choice of dry or sweet vintages. To complement these, the McIntyres also offer a select number of wines made from other fruits, such as strawberries and elderberries. Customers who want to see how the wine is made up close can come for a tour or tasting, or simply pick berries for a family-friendly outing.
Located in the bourbon capital of the world, Heaven Hill Distilleries has a long history that stretches back to the birth of the spirit. Today, Heaven Hills honors tried and true traditions by crafting its bourbon using pure Kentucky water and corn?as opposed to wheat from one of its neighboring states. Visitors can get an in-depth look at the distilling process through a host of tours that include educational bourbon tastings.
WhiteMoon Winery's 14 acres are owned by Alex Ackermann, who is also the head winemaker. She produces a variety of dry, semisweet, and sweet wines from grapes grown at local vineyards throughout Kentucky. Tastings offer visitors a chance to sample the wines, while events such as Art Night engage the community in non-grape fun.