Kentucky author brings food culture to life

Becky Kelley, a freelance writer and former college English teacher from Shepherdsville, recently published a book focusing on Kentucky food culture and wines. Kelley will speak tonight at 7:30 at Barnes & Noble on 1680 Campbell Ln for the Kentucky Live! Series. Kelley will speak about her book Wineing Your Way Across Kentucky: Recipes, History, and Scenery at the event.

The book includes recipes, winery reviews and photos.

“The book brings all of Kentucky wineries together in one place with beautiful photos and descriptions,” Kelley said. “We also created original recipes for each winery using one of their wines.”

The idea came about when Kelley and her friend, photographer Kathy Woodhouse, wanted to work on a project combining both their talents.

“[We] were trying to come up with an idea for a book we could do together using her photography and my writing,” Kelley said. “We hit on the idea over a bottle of wine at a winery.”

Woodhouse, also a Bullitt County native, is a photo studio manger and freelance photojournalist whose work has been featured on programs such as NBC’s “Today Show.”

The focus on Kentucky food culture in the book comes from the different taste combinations Kelley and Woodhouse liked to experiment with.

“We are foodies and wine was made to be enjoyed with food,” Kelley said. “We like to try different twists on traditional recipes and like to come up with new flavor combinations. We actually compete a bit for a new favorite taste combination.”

Kelley and Woodhouse visited each winery in Kentucky to get a sense of what they wanted to write about, as well as trying cooking nights.

“[It] was both a challenge and a joy because they’re all so unique and different depending on the owner’s goals for the winery,” Kelley said. “We asked a lot of questions, and they were so patient and kind to us. There’s so much more to wine than drink red wine at room temperature and white is slightly chilled. There are many books written about all of wine’s nuances, but they still don’t capture everything. For the recipes, we played around with different ideas and had cooking nights. Every dish had to get a thumbs up from the friends and family there or it didn’t go in the book.”

Tonight’s event is part of Kentucky Live!, a series of reading events hosted by WKU Libraries. Other upcoming readings from the series include “Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front” by historian and author David J. Bettez on March 9 and “The Man Who Love Birds: A Novel” by author Fenton Johnson on April 20.

According to Kelley, marketing for the book has proven to be a challenge.

“Getting the book out there so people know about it, learning how to market is very difficult,” Kelley said. “I’ve gained such a respect for authors who bring enough recognition to their books that people know their names. It’s not surprising to me that many writers do not write more than one book. There is much more work required after the book is written than there was in the process of writing the book.”

According to, Kentucky’s wine industry has blossomed in recent years, with over 60 wineries currently in the state. In the future, Kelley hopes more people will notice the growing wine industry in Kentucky.

“As more wineries open and a few close, we hope to update the book so that more people become familiar with the emerging wine industry in Kentucky; they will want this guide to help them become familiar with each one,” Kelley said. “People like to take the book to the wineries with them and get the owner or someone connected to the winery to sign their page. The owners have told me it makes them feel like a celebrity. Everyone seems to like that part so we want the newest wineries to have these experiences too.”

Kelley is currently writing a new book she plans to release in April which focuses on Indiana’s food and wine culture, along with a murder mystery book that she hopes to release in collaboration with other authors later this year. Those coming to the Kentucky Live! event tonight can expect to learn they can become involved in the wine industry due to its emerging status.

“Whether it’s learning to be a connoisseur of wines, cooking with them, learning to make their own wine or even working at or owning a winery, there should be something for everyone,” Kelley said. “Sorry, even though I would like to, I cannot bring wine for tasting.”

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].

Reporter Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected].