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Kentucky Wine Region

Home to First Commercial Winery of the U.S.

Kentucky, which is officially known as the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is located in the eastern south central region of the U.S.

This state that is popularly called as the Bluegrass State has the pride of being the home to the first commercial winery of the U.S.

Today, the wine industry of Kentucky is found to be blending the history and heritage with modern winemaking techniques. This U.S. state was the third-largest wine producer in the country during the 1800s.

Wine grape varieties

After a downfall, the region’s agriculture is on its way back now. Now, let’s see everything about the wine industry of Kentucky here…

Past and Present of Kentucky’s Wine Industry

After the decline of the tobacco industry, the agriculture in Kentucky had a comeback in the year 1799 with the vine cultivation and it was during this time that the first attempts for commercial wine growing were made.

Thus, the first commercial vines were planted in Kentucky by the Kentucky Vineyard Society.

The state has become one of the largest wine producers in the country. A few years later, a prohibition snuffed out the wine industry in Kentucky. In an attempt to re-establish the wine industry in Kentucky, a state law was passed in the year 1976 to enable the farm wineries to run.

As a result of this, new vineyards and wineries were established in the state. In the year 1982, the Kentucky Vineyard Society was revived.

Due to all these efforts, the total vineyard area of the state was able to grow by four times from the year 1998 to 2002.

Viticulture and Winemaking in Kentucky

The major reason why the Kentucky region was preferred for American winemaking is its mild climatic conditions especially in the Ohio River Valley.

We can see that the northern region of the state is coming under the Ohio River Valley AVA now.

It is this part which was the largest wine producer in the United States during the past. Even today, we can see that the majority of the vineyards of Kentucky are located in the northern parts especially between the Louisville and Lexington regions.

At present, the state has more than 113 wine grape producers cultivating vines in almost 550 acres of land and there are more than 60 small farm wineries in the state.

As such, the wine grapes are cultivated under three major categories, which are:

  • European
  • French-American hybrids
  • American/Native

So, what about the wines being produced in the Kentucky region? Well, we can see that there are 77 types of wines carrying the Kentucky designation labels.

Of these, 35 are found to be white wines, 38 are red wines, and 4 are rose wines.

A Little about the Kentucky Wine Sweetness Scale

The Kentucky wine sweetness scale is adopted by the wineries in the state in order to help the buyers determine the sweetness level of the wine.

The sweetness level of the wines can be on the bottles of the Kentucky wines. As such, the sweet levels prescribed by this sweetness guide are:

  • Bone Dry
  • Dry/off-dry
  • Medium dry
  • Medium sweet
  • Sweet
  • Luscious

Grape Varieties in Kentucky

The major grape varieties of Kentucky are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Chardonnay
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Norton
  • Chardonel
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Merlot
  • Chambourcin
  • Niagara

Apart from these, there are other varieties which are used in combination with the major varieties. They are:

  • Carlos
  • Catawba
  • Cayuga
  • Concord
  • De Chaunac
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Marechal Foch
  • Munson
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Reliance
  • Riesling
  • Sangiovese
  • Traminette
  • Viognier
Alcohol and Distilleries



Tharani Rajamanickam

Tharani Rajamanickam


I am Tharani, I have Bachelors degree in Biotechnology. I am passionate about the wine industry and continue to explore, learn and share and I bring in a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help you keep updated with best wines in the world. Stay tuned..

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