Country B & B at One of Kentucky’s Largest Wineries
It may come as a surprise, but the first commercial winery in the United States wasn’t located in Northern California—it was in Kentucky. Marquis de Lafayette first planted vines in the Bluegrass State in 1798, and by the mid-1800s, the state was the third-largest grape and wine producer in the country. Prohibition effectively ended Kentucky's run as a major wine producer, but Elk Creek Vineyards carries on the tradition of winemaking. Set amid rolling hills, Elk Creek boasts one of the largest wineries in the state, as well as its own B & B, art gallery, and outdoor amphitheater.
Nestled amid the grapevines, Elk Creek's amphitheater hosts acoustic and rock concerts throughout most of the summer (typically on weekend nights). Local musicians also perform on select nights in the tasting room, where you can sample house wines such as the Estate chardonelle and the Estate chambourcin. Elk Creek's gallery, meanwhile, showcases area ceramists, painters, and glitter-glue prodigies.
The lodge-style accommodations are split among three distinct buildings: The Inn, The Lodge, and The Estates. Standard queen rooms in each building feature private decks overlooking 30 acres of vineyards and stocked fishing lakes. Rooms in The Lodge and The Estates feature en suite bathrooms, but accommodations in The Inn either share a bathroom or have their own across the hall. Call ahead if you'd like to request a room with an en suite bathroom.
Owenton, Kentucky: Rolling Hills in Rural Northern Kentucky
If you were to draw a triangle between Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati, Owenton would lie directly in the middle of it. Though it's within an hour or two of each of these cities, Owenton remains charmingly rural. Elk Creek might be the area's biggest draw, but there are also opportunities for fishing and hunting nearby. In fact, starting in mid-October, you can shoot skeet or participate in bird hunts at Elk Creek Hunt Camp.
Lexington, located about 50 miles southeast of Owenton, has the spirit of a university town, which is intertwined with a pedigreed thoroughbred-horse culture. The small city is fringed with horse farms, many of which have yielded Kentucky Derby winners. At many of these farms, it’s possible to take a guided tour of the facilities—a great chance to see the next Triple Crown–contending horse before it becomes famous and blows it all on oats and platinum bridles. At Kentucky Horse Park, you can see the gravesite statue of the legendary stallion Man o’ War and visit living derby winners in the Hall of Champions.
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