​Baker-Bird Winery

 

Owner(s): Dinah Bird

Winemaker: Dinah Bird

Open to Public

Sat-Sun 1 to 5

4465 Augusta Chatam Rd., Augusta, KY 41002

phone: 937-708-1020

email: No available email

website


Baker-Bird Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Sep 26, 2017

Despite attempts at commercial winemaking in Kentucky as early as 1797, it was not until the mid 1800s that German immigrants had real viticultural success on the banks of the Ohio River. After fighting in the American Revolution, John Baker (originally from Brandenburg, Germany) settled in what would become the important grape-growing region near the settlement of Augusta, which is now a part of Berlin, Kentucky. 

In the 1850s, it was actually Baker’s grandson who opened the winery that we know today as Baker-Bird. By the 1870s, half of the country’s commercial wine grapes would be grown in Bracken County, where the winery still stands.

The original vineyard site still exists, but is not currently planted. The winery, on the other hand, with its massive barrel room still stands and is considered the oldest winery in America that has managed to retain its original vineyard tract. Furthermore, it is one of only 22 wineries on the National Registry of Historic Places.

If that is not enough, Baker-Bird is the only winery to have survived a Civil War battle. In other words, the property has serious historical significance.

In 2002, Dinah Bird and Martin Westerfield purchased the winery. Bird’s chemistry degree and training at U.C. Davis gave her the requisite skills to assume winemaking duties. In a nod to local culture, her premium wines are aged at least six months in Bourbon barrels and she has received accolades in both national and international competitions.

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Until the vineyards can be replanted, Baker-Bird sources most of its fruit from local Kentucky growers. Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, Norton and a few French-American hybrids are used to produce ten different wines about 400 cases annually.

According to Bird, “the vision is to create an enjoyable wine experience” in hopes that visitors will “return with family and friends.” A percentage of the proceeds from wine sales, she pointed out, will be used to “restore the historic winery [and] support local economic development through job growth.”

Baker-Bird Winery is a slice of American history and an important part of our viticultural past. As such, I can strongly recommend supporting their efforts. Stop in, taste the wine, explore the property and, after you do, let me know what you think.


​Brianza Garden & Winery

 

Owner(s): Tony Parnigoni

Winemaker: Tony Parnigoni

Open to Public

Tue-Fri 11 to 5; Sat 11 to 8; Sun 1 to 5

14611 Salem Creek Road, Crittenden, Kentucky 41030

phone: 859-445-9369

email: See website

website


Brianza Garden & Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Nov 27, 2017

Driving south from Cincinnati and crossing the Ohio River, it is still several miles until the sprawl gives way to rural Kentucky. The sudden transition makes the woodlands and rolling hills all the more striking.

Just south of the point where Interstate 75 and Interstate 71 split, there is a small cluster of wineries. One of them is Brianza Gardens & Winery, which only opened in 2015. Without regard to its “newcomer” status, it is a winery that seems to hold great promise.

In addition to the winery and tasting room, the 18-acre estate has event space, three rental property and three acres of vines. The vineyard was planted four years before the winery opened and was planted in Vignoles, Noiret, Marquette and Aramello.

These American hybrids are supplemented with fruit primarily from other Kentucky growers. Grapes are also sourced the Fingerlakes and California as needed. This was used to produce 850 cases in 2016. The plan is to grow output gradually to a maximum of 1500 cases. This will keep Brianza’s small, boutiques status intact.

Do not fear the hybrids! The quality of the wine is exceptional. Owner/Winemaker Tony Parnigoni learned the trade from Jim Wight of Wight-Meyer Winery near Louisville. Through some combination of stellar mentoring and natural talent, Parnigoni has put together a lineup of high-quality wines.

During my visit, I tasted several of the Brianza wines. While I was more interested in offerings made from Kentucky fruit, I did taste a couple that contained percentages of New York and California grapes. In any case, the estate Vignoles was exceptional with its tropical notes and perfect balance. The Symphony/Riesling blend was another stunning white.

A very well made Noiret was among my favorite reds. Other standout was the Cabernet Sauvignon/Marquette blend, but the Italian Stallion was off the charts. This blend of Cynthiana and Chambourcin took me by surprise with its earthy notes, chewy tannins and very long finish. It is no surprise that Brianza earned the highest percentage of medals in Kentucky’s Commissioner’s Cup.

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Brianza is arguably the perfect spot for a wedding or other private function, but the winery also offers a myriad of public events. Music is a typical Saturday feature and food trucks are frequently in the mix.

Just 30-minutes south of Cincinnati and minutes from Interstate 75 and Interstate 71, Brianza Gardens & Winery is a convenient destination. The quality of the wine and beauty of the venue make this something of a “no-brainer.” So make it a point to stop in. After you do, please let me know what you think.