THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
A local winery is preparing to sell alcohol for their first spring season. Bluegrass Vineyard is a family-run vineyard settled in Smiths Grove. Drew Rogers and his wife, Jessica, created the up-and-running vineyard themselves.
“I designed the vineyard, researched the exact grape varieties I wanted to plant, ones that offered the best flavor and best disease resistance, we dug all the holes, planted the vines with help from our neighbors, our neighbors are amazing, and now I tend to the vines,” Rogers said. “It is a lot of work maintaining a proper vineyard, but it is also relaxing. Walking the vineyard is really enjoyable as the sun sets, and it’s also fun to taste the grape berries as they ripen throughout the season.”
Rogers said he decided to open the vineyard after studying abroad in France. As a Captain in the Army Reserve, the couple waited until they moved into a better climate to fulfill the dream.
“I lived in France for a semester in high school and began to appreciate good wines from local vineyards, the drinking age was 16 over there,” Rogers said. “When I got married, my wife and I owned some acreage and she jokingly said we should start a vineyard one day. When we moved from El Paso, where it is difficult to grow grass, let alone grape vines, to Kentucky, we knew we wanted to start a family vineyard.”
The climate in Smiths Grove allows for grape vines to grow, and the soil and landscape provide support.
“Smiths Grove is a great location for a vineyard,” Rogers said. “Our limestone soil provides great nutrients for the vines, and the hilly landscape prevents standing water, which grape vines do not like. We also love Smiths Grove because of the people here. There are a lot of neat things happening in Smiths Grove, and we are proud to be a part of that transformation.”
Even with a helpful climate and friends, keeping a vineyard up and running isn’t always the easiest task.
“Some of the more difficult parts of owning a vineyard is the regular upkeep of the vines; it is not hard work but it takes a lot of time,” Rogers said.”We have to spray fungicides routinely in the spring, remove weeds between the vines, and ward off Japanese beetles. If our business is successful I would like to hire someone to tend to the vines either full-time or part-time.”
As much as possible of the grapes, goods and resources are locally sourced, and Bluegrass Vineyard is hoping to branch out into local farmer’s markets.
“Nearly all of our grapes are locally grown, our wine labels are printed in Bowling Green and we even plan to offer chocolates with our wine sampling with chocolates made from a local chocolatier,” Rogers said. “We are actively looking for someone to sell wine and offer wine samples at the farmer’s market on Saturdays.”
Recently, the vineyard got approved to sell alcohol at the winery, a turning point in the business. This has prompted the Rogers to build a “proper winery” to offer these new services. Some of these services include special events, weddings, anniversaries and birthdays.
The winery will initially only be open on weekends, but plans to sell its products regularly at farmers markets in Bowling Green and Glasgow. Rogers said that the business is currently looking for part-time employees to sell their products at farmers markets.
The Rogers are hoping to expand their services, working with other nearby wineries and offering a quiet place to get away from the stress of life.
“In the near future we hope to build a separate building to serve as our winery, and plant an additional ten acres of grape vines,” Rogers said. “We envision our vineyard [and] winery as a quiet retreat from the hustles of the work week. If successful, we plan to hire people to work in our vineyard and winery either full or part-time. We also want to start a wine trail with other local wineries, such as Reid’s Livery and Cave Valley.”
One of the new events Bluegrass Winery hopes to offer is a harvest party, where participants can even help smash the grapes themselves.
“We will start a sign-up sheet for people in the community who want to help us pick grapes and stomp grapes, in exchange for a free lunch and t-shirt,” Rogers said. “Those who help us stomp grapes will also get a certificate that states ‘I helped stomp grapes at Bluegrass Vineyard’ and they can put their purple footprints on the certificate.”
Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]