You don’t have to be a sommelier to appreciate fine wine, but the gurus in town can certainly steer you in the right direction if you’re looking to learn. Or, if you’re well-versed in the nuances of the vine, you can share your love with area winemakers and learn about the history of winemaking in the Bluegrass region, which dates back more than 200 years. These are a few of our favorites, but you can view the full list of area wineries here.
Voted best winery by Kentucky Living Magazine, the serene Talon Winery is burrowed among 300 acres of rolling Bluegrass pastureland just outside of Lexington. Daily wine tastings are also held in their rustic 18th-century tasting room, no reservations required.
Jean Farris Winery
In the mood for a little epicurean cuisine alongside your fine wine? Both a scenic winery and a gourmet New American bistro, Jean Farris Winery offers a romantic and relaxing food and drink environment for any occasion, plus wine tastings and gourmet cheese pairings.
Black Barn Winery
A renovated tobacco barn houses the operations behind the family-owned Black Barn Winery, situated on 40 acres of Bluegrass farmland just a stone’s throw from the Kentucky Horse Park. The winery crafts a new fine wine each year from grapes imported from California, and has produced several national-award winning wines. Visit the tasting bar in their barrel room to taste their renowned creations.
Grimes Mill Winery
You’ll find Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Grigio (among others) growing on the vines of this 5-year old family-owned vineyard. Each bottle produced is hand-crafted at every step – hand-selected, hand fermented and hand-bottled – so you can be sure of the quality of each sip you take. The winery offers both public and private tours by appointment.
First Vineyard/Sugar Creek Resort Bed & Breakfast
It may surprise you to learn that the birthplace of the country’s wine industry is in the heart of horse country – but in fact, the first commercial vineyard in the U.S. was established over 200 years ago at First Vineyard, just outside of Lexington. The site doubles as Sugar Creek Resort Bed & Breakfast, which offers tastings, horseback riding, live music and even on-site lodging.
The vision of winemaker and former IBM professional, Cynthia Bohn, Equus Run was voted by CNN Travel as a Must See Hidden Treasure of the U.S. In addition to tours and tastings, you can fish, golf on a putting green, take a walk through picturesque gardens or kayak on the nearby South Elkhorn Creek. The vineyard also offers rousing monthly events like a Murder Mystery Dinner show, a summer concert series and a “Tunes in the Vines” music lineup on summer Sundays.
As an 8-year recipient of the Wine Spectator Award, elegant Portofino knows a thing or two about the nuances of fine wines and fine Italian cuisine. Housed in a renovated Main Street building with rambling dining rooms lined with local artwork, there are plenty of spots to relax and enjoy an award-winning wine selection (also, scrumptious bruschetta).
Enjoy a slice of Paris in the heart of Lexington at this charming downtown French bistro, known for their palatable French cuisine and extensive wine list. Uncork a substantial selection of vintage and high-end wines from France, Italy and California, plus enjoy happy hours weekdays from 5:00-6:30.
Sophistication, style, elegant tapas and fine wines – that’s what you’ll find at Enoteca, with a wine list curated by Lexington’s only certified Sommelier, Renée Saunier Brewer. The restaurant occasionally hosts wine tastings and pairing dinners. If you’re looking to expand your palate, their sharp staff is quick to recommend wines to pair with whatever tapas you’re fixed on.
Wine + Market
Owned by the aforementioned Sommelier Renée Saunier Brown, this is Lexington’s premier boutique wine shop, offering wine tastings on Friday nights, a Wine of the Month Club, and a floor-to-ceiling selection of wines from all over the world. Plus, browse a large variety of domestic and imported cheese, charcuterie, deli meats and locally-grown produce – or, order an epicurean sandwich from behind their delicatessen counter. Think of this as your one-stop shop for an elegant picnic.
Wines on Vine
A selection of more than 450 wines await you at this European-inspired wine bar, bistro and friendly neighborhood wine cellar. With Tuesday night wine tastings, occasional dinner series with area winemakers and a warm, welcoming staff, it’s a great spot to swing by to pick up a bottle of wine or stick around for dinner and a staff wine pick.
Louie’s Wine Dive
Louie’s mixes the best qualities of a sports bar and a wine-focused bistro, offering an expansive selection of wines that are best paired with their eclectic and often shareable menu options. The staff are well-versed in their knowledge, so be sure to ask them for one of their expert picks. Bonus: Happy Hour on Mondays lasts all night long.
Perhaps best known for their adjoining French bakery, which offers scrumptious pastries, coffees and cakes, this quaint French shop also houses a vast and unique selection of fine vintage wines from just about anywhere in the world that makes wine. The shop is run by a no-nonsense but ingenious wine connoisseur whose knowledge of fine wines knows no limits.
The Julep Cup
With an award-winning wine selection and a menu that features both the traditional and the inventive, the Julep Cup holds a wine spectator award and provides a unique, cozy atmosphere for guests to sip, eat and enjoy.