The time will come when winter will ask what you were doing all summer.
– Henry Clay
BY TOM YATES
The first annual Vintage Kentucky Festival offered wine samplings from various local wineries and vineyards on the grounds of Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate on Saturday. On a late summer afternoon under the canopy of Ash trees, Kentucky’s wineries offered up their best in a tented tasting room.
Situated just outside the tasting tent were similar smaller food tents offering nibbles and snacks to pair with wine.
Cheeses, fruits, finger sandwiches, and pastas took center stage. Chrisman Mill Vineyard had a fresh grape and goat cheese sampler along with a build-your-own pasta station (creamy sundried tomato sauce, egg-rich carbonara, and salty prosciutto could be draped and bathed over a variety of pasta shapes and sizes).
A few steps down the shaded mulched pathway, Jonathan Lundy of Jonathan at Gratz Park plated fresh Capriole goat cheese samplings with assorted crackers and huge plump fresh Kentucky proud blackberries, Sophia, a pillowy white mild cheese streaked with ash veining, was tangy and nutty. Tomme de Chevre, a semi soft white cheese, had a salty tang. St. Francis, with its reddish washed rind was the standout. Not for the faint of heart with its wonderful pungent deep stinky flavor, it was the cheese that lingered in memory and taste. They all paired beautifully with the wines.
Equus Run served their official WEG offerings — a Blanc de Blanc and a Merlot. They describe the Blanc de Blanc as “a white table wine with hints of citrus on the nose. Stainless steel fermented with a Sauvignon Blanc finish.” As for the merlot, “the nose has light chocolate aroma with a tease of ripe purple plum. Medium mid-palate fruit with toasted almond nutty finish.”
Lovers Leap sampled their award winning selections, including the peach bellini that won the People’s Choice Award at the 2010 Taste of the Bluegrass. And Louisville’s River Bend winery served both a Bourbon Barrel Red, and a rhubarb white (vinted from rhubarb, not grapes).
The event was lovely. Crowds lounged in chairs or at picnic tables enjoying the welcome break from the summer’s heat and listening to the festive smooth music from the DiMartino Osland Jazz Orchestra, as part of the annual Evening at Ashland celebration.
Sips of wine. Nips of cheese. A great way to while away the last summer afternoon on Labor Day weekend.
Editor’s Recs for next year:
Ideally, this would become a signature event for Lexington, like the one it’s modeled after in Grapevine, Texas.
- Offer an option of 5 samples for $10. The 10 tickets for $20 was very reasonable, but that’s a lot of wine. Additionally, a $10 price point would open the event up to a younger, wine-loving demographic (while by no means creating a frat-friendly atmosphere).
- Open up the ticket exchange to food samples as well, and add a few more food options appropriate to the wine pairings. Jonathan, Wines on Vine, and Chrisman Mill had lovely offerings.
- Add a marketing plan, including facebook and twitter. It would be an opportunity to introduce more of Lexington to the Henry Clay Estate.
- schedule around UK football games. It may not seem like the same demographic, but there is no demographic that is immune to UK sports.
Related Ace Links
Vintage Kentucky: Inaugural Wine Tasting at Ashland, A Toast to Henry Clay
James Beard Celebrity Chef Menus at WEG
Kentucky Wine Documentary Earns National Honors