We’d heard about it before. But it seems like ever since we had kids in school, there was always a school event or field trip that would fall on the weekend of Bushmaster’s birthday. When we discovered that we could actually do an even for us this year, we jumped at the opportunity.
This charity event included 16 participating wineries all of which would provide one or more samples of their wine in its final stages before actual bottling and release. Included were souvenir wine glasses and event bracelets. Driving time alone would not allow for visits to all the wineries so we had to pick and choose and strategize our plan.
Our options included:
- Black Barn Winery
- Chrisman Mill Vineyards
- Chuckleberry Farm & Winery
- Equus Run Vineyards
- Grimes Mill Winery
- First Vineyard Winery
- Hamon Haven Winery
- Horseshoe Bend Vineyards & Wionery
- Jean Farris Winery & Bistro
- Lovers Leap vineyards & Winery
- McIntyre’s Winery & Berries
- Prodigy Vineyards & Winery
- Rising Sons Winery
- Springhill Winery & Plantation
- Talon Winery & Vineyards
- Wildside Winery & Vineyard
Having never visited before, we chose Hamon Haven Winery as our starting point.
To take advantage of our limited time, we timed our departure from home so that we would arrive just as the event began.
Hamon Haven Winery featured a beautiful location as well as a darling little tasting room. We were guided into their immaculate production area where we got to sample their Niagara, Catawba, and Merlot right from the barrel and then compare each one to their finished product.
Since this was our first visit there, we also did a regular tasting. They try not to do anything overly sweet. We tried their Sauvignon Blank, Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Chambourcin, Diamond, June’s Blend (Concord & Niagara), Blackberry, Zinthiana, and Marechal Foch. Zinthiana was my favorite and we both agreed that their Blackberry was excellent — not overly sweet and definitely not syrupy.
We had our bracelets so we were off to our next stop — Black Barn Winery
True to its name, Black Barn’s tasting room is located in a black barn. We had been there before and it was a not to be missed on our list. Wine maker Colin, produces an amazing Bordeaux blend from grapes he brings in from the Sierra Nevada foothills. Normal tastings are by appointment only where he devotes his undivided attention to his guests and regales them with stories and generous pours. With the influx of event participants, there just wasn’t time for his usual story telling but his wine certainly makes up for it. Having studied in Saint Emilion, France, his wine is as close to the French version as we have found in the United States. We got to sample his 2012 vintage and cannot wait to go back again once it has been bottled so we can bring some home.
Our next stop was Prodigy Vineyards & Winery. We had been to visit before, but they now have a new tasting room at their production facility. From the barrel we tasted their Norton and their Chambourcin — two of my favorites. Not surprisingly, it was the Norton I liked best. We also did a tasting there as well which included their Meritage Blend, Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, Riesling, Diamond, Pink Diamond (Diamond blended with a splash of raspberry), Blush (Chambourcin), Blueberry, Black-N-Blue, and Raspberry. We both agreed that the Raspberry was exceptional. My favorites were the Cabernet Franc and of course the Norton, but for me, the stand out item at Prodigy was the savory mix that converted regular saltines into the most delicious snack crackers ever.
Next, it was Rising Sons Home Farm Winery, one of our favorite Kentucky wineries. Owners Joe and Francine are always such gracious hosts and we love to catch up with them. For the event, they opened their barn up and converted a portion of it to accommodate all the visitors. Their barrel offerings were their 2013 Cabernet Franc, their 2015 Norton, as well as an in the glass blend of the two. We were also treated to a taste of Edelweiss. All were very good but the Cabernet Franc was excellent. From their finished products we sampled Cataldo’s Salute (Reserve Norton), Chambourcin, Crazy Llama Red (St. Vincent), Riesling, Vignoles, and Vidal Blanc. Food samples included selections from Larry Mac’s Cheese Spreads and Francine’s Wine Princess Jellies. Each one is so delicious and pair perfectly with the wines. Francine is experimenting with a green apple jelly and I was happy to let her know I thought it was out of this world.
Time was running out so we only had time for one more stop. As a result of Colin from Black Barn Winery’s recommendation, Wildside Winery it was. Although we had been there a number of times before, this time their wine maker was to be there. From the barrel we were treated to their new Quartet which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Syrah, and Zinfandel and their Black Walnut dessert wine. Quartet was fantastic. We can’t wait for it to be bottled so we will be planning another trip back. Their unique Black Walnut wine was as delicious as ever. We stayed and did a tasting there where we sampled their Norton, Wild Duet (Marechel Foch and DeChaunac), Chambourcin, Zinthiana, Black Barrel Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignon aged in Bourbon barrels), Red Zinfandel, Frontenac Gris, Blackberry, Strawberry/Rhubarb, Raspberry with a hint of Chocolate, Peach Mead, and 2010 Norton Port.
Even though the day was the start of Bushmaster’s birthday celebration, he let me select where we were having dinner in Lexington. No tough decision there, of course it was Oasis. In my book, there’s nothing better than their Fattoush and Chicken Shawarma.