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History of Winemaking in Kentucky

Winemaking has deep roots in the state of Kentucky. In fact, Kentucky was the home of the first commercial winery in the United States. In the late 18th century, a Swiss Winemaker named James Dufour, came to America with the dream of starting a winery. He traveled around the country searching for an ideal location and in 1798, he settled in Jessamine County, Kentucky.


With the help from several prominent investors, Dufour opened the first commercial winery in United States History. While this was a major milestone, cold winters and humid summers would eventually cause the demise of his vineyard. He relocated his operations to the Northern Banks of the Ohio River, where he founded Vevay, Indiana.

Years later, in 1848, a group of French Monks established a vineyard at the Gethsemani Monastery near Bardstown. This vineyard was just one of many successful wine-producing vineyards in Kentucky. According to Census records, over 125,000 gallons of wine were produced in 30 counties across Kentucky. At the time, Kentucky was recorded as the third largest wine producing state in America.

Unfortunately, most vineyards in Kentucky were destroyed when Prohibition was
enacted. This was a major setback for the state's wine industry, but in the years since prohibition was repealed, it has bounced back tremendously.

Kentucky now has (x) wineries which produce (x) gallons of wine.

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