farmer to produce,
sell wine in New Castle
votes to allow sale of wine
(January 2002) NEW CASTLE, Ky. Henry County farmer Chuck
Smith is chasing a three-year dream. If he fulfills it, folks may soon
be referring to his hometown as Vintage New Castle.
& Mary Berry
Smith is working toward opening the citys first
commercial winery sometime in 2002. A Dec. 11 vote of county residents
passed overwhelmingly, allowing Smith to establish a winery and giving
him the right to sell wine in the otherwise dry Henry County under several
Kentucky Revised Statutes.
Smiths new venture will be called the Smith-Berry Winery and Vineyards
and will be located on his 180-acre farm at 855 Drennon Rd., just east
We feel like our community really supported us and will continue
to support us on this new venture, said Smith, 43. Were
overwhelmed with feelings that it went that well.
A New Castle native, Smith runs his farm with his wife, Mary Berry,
and his three daughters, Katie, 20, Virginia, 16, and Tanya, 11. The
Smiths have owned the farm since 1980, raising of cattle and tobacco.
During the 1990s, they started to raise organic vegetables, which they
sold at the New Castle farmers market. They also had pasture poultry.
But a visit to Californias Napa Valley three years ago planted
a new seed in the Smiths farming ventures. It was here and on
a trip a year later to Livermore, Calif., that introduced Smith to the
wonders of grape growing.
It peaked my interest, especially that you didnt need a
lot of land to have a winery, said Smith. I always thought
you needed to have 300 to 400 acres.
But as it turned out, the Ivan Tamas Winery he visited in Livermore
only had eight acres of vineyards.
They had some really nice wines, too, he said.
Upon his return home, Smith pursued his interest by becoming involved
in the Kentucky Vineyard Society. He met Louisville resident Mark Klan,
a society member.
Smith began studying laws of alcohol legislation in dry counties. In
January 2000, Smith attended the Kentucky Vineyard and Horticulture
meeting in Lexington, Ky. There, one of the issues discussed was trying
to legalize the sale of wine in a dry county. It wasnt long before
a bill was drawn up and passed before the General Assembly, and local
option elections on wine sales in such counties were allowed under the
governance of statutes.
With these statutes in place, Smith began promoting a petition for a
winery at his farm. He had to obtain signatures of 25 percent of the
registered voters who voted in the last election in order for a local
option election to be called. He said he found the community favorable
to the issue. By late September, the petitions were turned into county
clerk, and two months later, the vote was taken and the statute passed.
I think this is an exciting thing, said Henry County resident
John Logan Brent. If we are going to have a healthy local economy
and maintain the quality of life, agriculture has to play a big part.
I think a winery will work toward those goals and could open up a lot
of doors for farmers and spin-off businesses.
I think this was a tremendous effort on his part, said Klan,
who came up from Louisville for the Dec. 11 meeting. It provides
a nice alternative to the traditional Kentucky tobacco growing. If you
look at the location of New Castle between I-71 and I-64, its
in a perfect area. Most of the people purchasing are interested in tourism,
so a winery is a hot financial opportunity.
The newly passed statute allows the sale of wine at Smiths establishment
only and not on Sundays.
Currently, Smith is already growing four types of grapes on four acres
of land. He plans to offer a balance of both dry and sweet and red and
white wines. Guests will able to tour the vineyards and enjoy the tasting
room, which will be in an old buggy shed next to the Smiths Victorian
gingerbread-style home. Smith said half of this structure will be used
to house an art gallery. He is also planning to later establish a conference
center and reception hall on his property.
That is our long term plan, he emphasized.
His tentative timeline is to prepare the tasting room by April and landscape
his property to include a new driveway to accommodate bus tours and
Smith invites anyone seeking information about the winery to call him
at (502) 845-7091.
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