McConnell Springs

This was our second year.   McConnell Springs Barrel Tasting is a charity event that includes 16 participating wineries.  Each winery provides one or more samples of their wine in its final stages before actual bottling and release. Included are 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.  Participating wineries 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

This year we followed a different route so that we could visit different wineries from the previous year.


Our first stop was Springhill Winery & Plantation.  It had been a couple of years since we had been there.  Their Sweet Blackberry Wineshine was their barrel offering.  We did a tasting as well and sampled from the following:

  • Springhill Bordeaux – red Bordeaux blend
  • Bourbon Bordeaux – red Bordeaux blend aged 6 months in Boubon barrels
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Kentucky Roots – red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged in charred oak barrels
  • Tara – Chambourcin
  • Raspberry Fox – off dry blend of Raspberry and Chambourcin
  • Bonnie Belle – semi sweet Vidal Blanc
  • Sweet Rhett – sweet Merlot
  • Prissy – sweet and tart Pomegranate
  • Harvest Mead – traditional Celtic Wine with spice

Prissy was unusual and intriguing, but hands down, their Bourbon Bordeaux was our clear favorite.


Our next stop was Horseshoe Bend Vineyard & Winery.  Kong’s Thong (Norton) and Red Jester (Chambourcin) are both favorites at our house.  It was nice to visit again and we enjoyed some nice conversation with the wine maker as we sampled their Boubon Barrel Vidal straight from the barrel.  This wine was unusual in that it was a bourboned white and we found we really enjoyed it. Horseshoe Bend included three additional tastes for McConnell Springs participants so we also tried:

  • White Jester – a white blend of Vidal Blanc and Muscat Canelli
  • Red Jester – Chambourcin
  • Black Jester – a red blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere
  • Black Tie Cabernet Sauvignon – barrel aged Cabernet
  • White Tie Cabernet Sauvignon – estate barrel aged Cabernet
  • Bourbon Barrel Rose – a blend of Muscat Canelli, Vidal Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon

There wasn’t a wine here that we didn’t like.  While Black Tie and White Tie were their premium feature wines, it was the Black Jester and Bourbon Barrel Rose that came home with us.


Wildside Winery & Vineyard was a winery not to miss.  Following barrel tastings of their Cabernet Sauvignon and their Black Barrel Reserve bourbon barrel aged Cabernet Sauvignon, we enjoyed complementary snacks and a quick tasting flight from their lengthy wine list:

  • Black Barrel Reserve
  • Peach Mead
  • Raspberry with a hint of Chocolate
  • Paw Paw
  • Black Walnut
  • 2010 Norton Port

After trying the young Black Barrel Reserve, we were interested in sampling the final product. Paw Paw was unusual and fun.  We were happy to see the return of the Black Walnut although it wasn’t as quite as flavorful as we remembered.  The Norton Port was fantastic and full of flavor.  We regretted we didn’t have time to sample more, but time was ticking away and there were more wineries awaiting us.


Our tour would not have been complete without at stop at one of our favorites, Rising Sons Winery.  They were busy but we still had opportunity to visit with Joe and Francine while we enjoyed barrel samples of their Cabernet Franc and Norton blend and their Dry Vidal Blanc. Bushmaster encouraged me to try the Cabernet Franc which resulted in our purchase of two bottles to go along with the two bottles of Cataldo’s Salute.  We also sampled Wine Princess Jellies and Larry Mac’s cheese spreads before being on our way.


Prodigy Vineyards & Winery ended up being our last official barrel tasting.  As single sample of their Norton left us wanting more.  We had some great conversation with their wine maker who gave us some great tips about wine making as well as the title of a book to help us in our endeavors.  As it was getting close to the end of the event, we opted stay for tastings rather than chancing being too late for another barrel taste at another winery.  Bushmaster selected the sweet tasting flight while I selected the dry tasting flight. Together we tried the following:

  • Traminette
  • Lemberger Estate
  • Chambourcin
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Norton
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Diamond
  • Pink Diamond – a blend of Diamond and Concord
  • Black-N-Blue – a blend of Blackberry and Blueberry
  • Raspberry

All the wines were enjoyable but the Black-N-Blue was completely amazing. Blueberry always seems to be a difficult wine to get right. Both the blackberry and blueberry flavors were true and nicely balanced.  This was a perfect dessert wine.


Although it was after hours for the event, we stopped at Equus Run Vineyards just in case they were still doing barrel samplings.  It ended up that we were too late.  We were offered the opportunity to do a regular wine tasting, however, we quickly discover that their wine list had diminished significantly since the last time we were there.  Sadly, between the two of us, we could not come up with six wines to taste.  It was disappointed to see that so many of the wines we liked had disappeared from their list.


Not ready for our day of winery visits to be over, we stopped at Brianza Gardens & Winery on the way home.  Although they were not a participating winery, it was still a nice stop and we got to try their latest additions to their tasting list:

  • Sweet Bottom Tropical – a white blend of tropical fuit flavors
  • Brittany Red – Marquette
  • Noiret 2016
  • Sweet Bottom Black – a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Blackberry

Sweet Bottom Tropical was a nice enjoyable white that will be a perfect wine for the summer. For the evening, we couldn’t pass on the 2014 Cynthiana.  It was so nice to enjoy a nice spring evening on the patio.  We are looking forward to another season of outdoor fun at the wineries!