Kentucky River Region
Barker's Blackberry Hill Winery - There's a big difference between those who love wine-travel and wine-travel fanatics. Those who love wine-travel will occasionally travel to areas heavily populated with local wineries. They will visit a couple of the larger, upscale wineries in hopes of finding a wonderful wine to take home with them and drink on their back deck while watching the sunset. Wine-travel fanatics will search out every small winery on a remote country road in hopes of a most memorable experience...plus a wonderful wine to take home with them and drink on their back deck while watching the sunset.
We are wine-travel fanatics...and that's how we found this Crittenden, Kentucky winery. In Kentucky, there isn't a major wine region like you will find in a lot of states. Barker's Blackberry Hill is located approximately 30 minutes south of Cincinnati, Ohio on a small country road lined with white fences and horse farms. This was our first visit to a Kentucky winery, so we were anxious wondering what to expect as we pulled into the gravel drive.
We saw no other visitors, and as we parked the car the winemaker hopped down from his tractor and began to unlock a rustic looking building. We stepped inside and he welcomed us to his winery - stating that his wife usually does the tastings, but she had gone up to the house to cook supper. He asked us what kinds of wine we liked...and our tasting began.
Barker's produces a couple of different types of wine: blackberry, cherry and honey...but no grape varieties. Our host started us out with a honey wine. I thought it was unusual that he began with it...but I soon realized why. It is a dry honey wine and was actually quite good. I'm used very sweet honey wines and this one was a refreshing change of pace. We moved through a dry blackberry, cherry and then a sweeter blackberry. He was sold out of his sweetest blackberry wine that was bottled...although he told us we could buy a barrel of it if we wanted. I found it amusing when I started imagining us driving back up I-75 with a barrel of wine in the trunk of the car.
Barker's Blackberry Hill is a unique place to visit. The winemaker offered friendly conversation and some nice wines. If you visit in July or August, you can even pick your own blackberries. I love fresh blackberries...so we may stop back if we're in the area.
Stonebrook Winery - I felt like I had stepped back in time when we arrived at this Camp Springs, Kentucky winery. It was the first snowfall of the year and approximately three inches had fallen on this December day. The winery is located on a quiet country road, and as we got out of the car I could smell the smoke from a nearby wood burning stove or fireplace. The tasting room is housed in a renovated 130-year old farmhouse and was absolutely lovely - the perfect place to spend a snowy afternoon.
It was nice and warm when we stepped inside the rustic tasting room. I loved all the natural wood and felt like I was in an old backwoods cabin. When we walked over to the tasting counter I noticed a very tall Christmas tree towering over me. When I looked up to the top of the tree I realized there was also a loft with seating above us. I fell in love with the entire atmosphere. I'm not sure it would have had the same effect on me had it been summertime, but with the snow still gently falling outside everything around me seemed absolutely perfect.
We were the only tasters at the winery on this snowy Saturday afternoon, so we received plenty of personal attention from our hostess behind the counter. She offered up a list of their wines and explained their policy of $5.00 for five tastings. I browsed the list and started choosing the wines I would be sampling. Stonebrook produces many fruit wines, but they also offer several grape varieties. Since fruit wines are not my favorite, I stuck with four grape wines and one fruit - a peach wine. For such a small winery I was very impressed with the quality of the wines, especially their estate grown Vidal Blanc which I loved very much. During the tasting our hostess was very accommodating and very informative...answering all of our questions about the wines they produce.
It was so cozy in the tasting room I would have loved to stay for a glass of wine, but we still had a bit of a drive to get to our bed and breakfast and the snowy conditions had me on edge. We decided it was best we were on our way, so we bought a few bottles to take home with us and headed to the car. I really loved everything about Stonebrook Winery and I would love to revisit when I have time to stay awhile longer. This wonderful little winery should make northern Kentucky proud!