First ever Black-owned winery and bistro opens in Elizabethtown

HARDIN COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – What started as a dream to work with family, has turned into Elizabethtown’s first ever Black owned winery and bistro.

“It’s been a great experience,” says Charlie Watkins, owner of Waters Edge Winery & Bistro of Elizabethtown. “I’m still high on this last weekend.”

Watkins says his Friday grand opening couldn’t have been better.

“We sold out tickets within an hour when it went publicized,” says Watkins. “I was receiving phone calls early in the morning about ‘how can I get tickets?’”

He says Saturday brought even more people.

Watkins says opening during a pandemic isn’t ideal, but he leaned on the support of the community he’s lived in for 16 years.

“Everyone was giving me great feedback, supporting me, couldn’t wait for this business to open – something new in Elizabethtown.”

His military background helped too.

“Being a retired military, you take fear and you thrive with it and you drive on,” says Watkins. “You’re gonna hit some situations where you have to be flexible and adapt.”

Watkins says he wanted to help his daughter, a recent college graduate having a hard time finding work.

“So I said let me see about starting my own business and you can run it and you don’t have to worry about experience. You can get all the experience you want.”

Watkins says the goal was to own a restaurant, but after talking to the community, he realized a winery was an untapped market. He admits, he didn’t know much about wine, but now he loves it.

“I don’t want to turn you into a wine lover, but at least come in and try the wine,” says Watkins.

He says he can’t describe how he’s feeling, but those around him could see it.

“He was here over the weekend and he said, looking at my daughters, looking at me – he could tell how proud I was.”

Waters Edge Winery & Bistro of Elizabethtown is open Monday- Thursday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. It currently has a selection of 37 wines.

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