Instead of Tobacco .... Wineries?

By: Courtney Lassiter Email
By: Courtney Lassiter Email

After the tobacco buyout, farmers have since been producing alternate crops to make up for lost revenue. You've seen and heard of Kentucky grown fish, soy beans and bio-diesel. But now, some farmers are growing grapes in hopes of making Kentucky... wine country.

If you've ever heard the expression "What's old is new again," it's happening in Kentucky.

"We were the founding members of the Grape Industry in the United States," said Carol LaFaver, horticulture expert.

According to LaFaver, back in the 1700s Kentucky farmers found they could make money from growing grapes and making wine. This is still evident in Northern Kentucky where many wineries are running, but in the southern part of the state, many counties are dry, one of the main reasons vineyards don't decorate the rural landscape.

"To put in a vineyard it costs $5,000-$7,000, but not going to see your financial return for three to four years," LaFaver said.

LaFaver also said vineyards could be very fruitful for the southern portion of Kentucky.

"Grapes do very well in Kentucky; they grow well in Warren, Logan and Metcalfe counties ... some of that rockier soil," LaFaver said.

And not only are the growing conditions favorable. Unlike farming tobacco, vineyards would boost agri-tourism as many could visit to see the vineyard, and of course, taste the wine.

"Well, in the grape industry if you want to do a winery, you live and die by a tasting room. In dry counties that's not possible," LeFaver said.

Unless, that is, Kentuckians want wineries to make a comeback.

To view a list of dry counties in Kentucky click here.

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