ROAD TRIP! A 12-hour drive from Ocala, FL to Louisville, KY—from horse country to horse country, with miles and miles of The Sticks, towns, small cities, and a surprising number of vineyards and wineries in between.

From Ocala to Louisville, we passed nearly a dozen vineyards. We didn’t have time to stop and tour or try, but these operations, some of which are in the middle of nowhere, just prove that we are living in exciting times indeed: the world is opening up to the possibilities of winemaking almost anywhere. As the Jean Farris Winery (below) Web site states, “At Jean Farris, our constant quest is to find the voice of our soils. Each piece of land, each section of earth, has a unique voice; a resonance that the vine, and all things grown from its nourishment, expresses. Starting with gentle handling in the vineyards, the fruit comes to the winery. Simple guidance then transforms fruit into wine, allowing the soils to speak and every bottle to sing the songs of its own special place.”

From south to north, here are the vineyards we passed:

Cane River Vineyard, Georgia. Besides GeorgiaBob’s fruit wines such as the Blackberry Bliss, they have a Tiger Mountain lineup including Norton, Viognier, Malbec, Tannat, and other interesting varietals.

Horsecreek Winery, Georgia. Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and several blends with horsey names such as Jockey, Finish Line, Big Red, and Odds On Favorite.

The previous two vineyards are located in relatively flat areas that are hot and humid much of the year. The next ones are in the foothills, valleys, or hillsides of the Appalachian Mountains.

Cohutta Springs Winery, Georgia. Not much information on their Web site, but the location was mountainous and we’d bet it’s cold there much of the year. Judging from the brown grass, they’d already had at least one frost.

Morris Vineyard and Tennessee Mountainview Winery, in the mountains of Tennessee. Reminiscent of what New York State was growing 30 years ago: Scuppernong, Catawba, Concord, etc.

Ocoee Winery, Tennessee. Similar to the previous along with Merlot, Cynthiana (Norton), Zinfandel, and Chardonnay.

Striker’s Premium Winery, Athens, Tennessee. No Web site; Web review blurbs favorably mentioned their Athenian Red and their Foch.

Tennessee Valley Winery. Chardonnay, Seyval, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the sweet wines.

Acres of Land Winery, Richmond, Kentucky. Lineup includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, sweet wines, etc.

Jean Farris Winery, Lexington, Kentucky. An impressive-looking lineup of varietals from Blanc de Blanc to Zinfandel, a few blends such as “The Tempest” that look like they would be very good, and a family background in winemaking. Also a bistro. Very interesting.

Talon Winery and Vineyards, Lexington, Kentucky. Several good-looking varietals, blends, and just a few sweet ones.

Equus Run Vineyard and Winery, Midway, KY. Another good-looking lineup of varietals that opened with [surprise] Cabernet Franc! Viognier, Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, several other varietals, and a couple of blends.

It was a pleasant drive. Good to see people following their winemaking passions. Nice to see the fall colors again.

In honor of the two-day Breeders’ Cup races, we will be reviewing two horse-themed wines: Wild Horse 2008 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14 Hands 2009 “Hot to Trot” Washington state red blend. Stay tuned!

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