The vineyard industry and vitaculture (the science, production and study of grapes, which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard) in Kentucky continues to grow and develop with the addition of more and more new players.
One interesting vineyard and winery that has been “under the radar,” so to speak, because it is not open to the public yet, is the Harkness Edwards Vineyards (www.harknessedwardsvineyards.com) in Clark County, located at 5199 Combs Ferry Road. This vineyard is owned by Harkness (“Harkey”) and Cathy Edwards and is located on 300 beautiful rolling green acres. The actual vineyard is only about 20 acres, with the first planting of the vines occurring in 2003 and actual wine production not beginning until three to four years later.
One of the motivations for getting into the vineyard business was to find an agricultural alternative to tobacco that they could be passionate about and use to build a business. Harkey Edwards had previous business experience in real estate, construction and development, and this served him well in their new venture. They also benefited from outside expertise from resources such as the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
This enterprise is very much a family affair, with each of their three daughters being involved and having their own role: Nini is involved in sales and marketing, Beth in graphic design and Kate is involved in farm operations.
When you walk the property with the Edwardses, it is clear they love the land, and they love working it and making it productive.
The Harkness Edwards Vineyards produce several carefully selected cultivars of grape, one of which is the Norton. The Norton has an interesting history and was introduced by Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton of Richmond, Va., from what is believed to be seeds from an extinct variety. This grape became commercially available circa 1830, and due to its disease-resistant traits and its suitability for certain climates, it began to dominate wine production in the Midwest and eastern states. It is a grape that is particularly well-suited for making dry wine. In 2009, Riedel designed stemware specifically for wine made from the Norton grape. Other grapes grown include Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and a hybrid grape called Crimson Cabernet.