A recent trip to Keeneland afforded me the opportunity to explore a little and write a story about two official Kentucky Derby drink producers. One of them was Equus Run Vineyards, for my story on America's Best Racing website, click here. I won't rehash the background story but there is some more I would like to share that didn't fit in that story.
Every state in the United States now has at least one winery. Some are more serious in their approach than others and those are the ones that capture my attention. I was told Equus Run Vineyards produce all of their own white grapes and some of the red - the rest come from Indiana, New York and California.
The regular tasting room is under renovation so the entry took me through the grape-themed gates.
The driveway also led me past some exciting plantings - complete with signs(!), including Cabernet Sauvignon (not something I expected to find in Kentucky), Cabernet Franc (one of my favorite grapes!) and Norton, an unheralded but exciting grape (learn more about it here).
An unusual piece of art greeted me inside...
Equus was a pleasant surprise, my only real disappointment on the visit was the fact that they were sold out of Norton and Cabernet Franc. The wines were not overly manipulated or obscured by sugar or oak and I hope to return again to explore some of the reds I missed this time. I also hope to taste at some other wineries in the area despite the very clear statement from some other guests that most of them were not worth the effort.
In addition to the Derby wines, I tasted two other wines:
Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc de Noir - This is a white from reds, in this case a rosé. I found it a bit mute on the nose, fairly typical for Cabernet, but the palate more than made up for it. The wine was lush and rich with a full mouthfeel. It was also dry, unlike way too many other pink wines. There were even some dry tannins on the finish. Overall, the wine was tasty and mouthwatering and while it might not be the ideal pool wine I wanted it for picnics and appetizers on the back porch - really anywhere there is food and nice weather. My favorite wine at Equus Run. $15.99 ($14.39 for club members)
Zinfandel - My experience with Zinfandel from wineries outside of California have been disappointing. Most of the fruit tends to come from Lodi and Sierra Foothills in California, relatively inexpensive sources for grapes, and I find most of them to have a baked fruit and brown sugar quality. The wines taste like the grapes were exposed to too much heat and the vibrant, juicy berry notes I crave in Zinfandel are missing. I am not sure where these grapes came from but the Equus Run version was decent. There was a slight brown edge to the wine indicating age or potentially some fading fruit but the aroma and palate displayed spice notes, especially pepper, and despite it not being huge and lush it was a solid wine that would do a great job at the table with some grilled sausages or lamb or duck. $21.99 ($19.79 for club members)
I look forward to my next visit.