NICHOLASVILLE, Ky (WTVQ) When you think of Kentucky you think of horses, the Kentucky Derby, maybe Kentucky bourbon. But wine isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. But more than 200 years ago wine actually got its start in America in Kentucky and now First Vineyard & Winery in Nicholasville has the certificate from Washington DC to prove it.
First Vineyard & Winery owner Tom Beall says, “a lot of people think that wine got it’s start in California but of course that wasn’t correct.”
The first Cape grapes were planted in Nicholasville by Swiss transplant John Dufour in 1799, almost thirty years before they planted grapes at the San Gabriel Mission in California.
Beall says, “When I found out that this being the first vineyard and winery in the united states for commercial states I thought we have to bring this back because unfortunately people think, they typically stereotype Kentucky a certain way and culturally we may have been a head of the curve in a lot of things.”
And now visitors sip on wine from the same species of vine Dufour served to Presidents like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison more than two centuries ago.
Without any family members to pass it on today eventually Beall will have to sell the winery. He hopes the state of Kentucky will want it or a major wine company as long as they leave it open to the public for future generations to enjoy.