General LaFayette, a French revolutionary soldier, returned to America with his personal Swiss winemaker Jacque Dufour and traveled throughout the colonies of the new United States. Dufour later settled in the "Great Bend of the Kentucky River" in Fayette County, and sent for his family in Switzerland to join him. He planted the first commercial vineyard in 1799 with European vinifera vines which were soon killed out from the cold winters and the diseases of the humid summers. In 1826 they completely abandoned the project. The small Swiss community resettled on the northern banks of the Ohio River, in Indiana and founded a town which was called Vevay after their hometown in Switzerland. This area later became known as the "Rhineland of America".
Kentucky was the site of the first commercial vineyard in America. Jacque DuFour started the Kentucky Vineyard Society to develop the grape and wine interest in Kentucky.
The Trappist Monks of France established a vineyard at the Gethsemani Monastery near Bardstown until about 1948
According to Federal Census records, 136,000 gallons of wine was produced in Logan, Washington, Boyle, and 27 other counties. Kentucky was recorded as the third largest wine producing state in America.
1920 - 1933
Prohibition was enacted and the wine industry came to a stop. People began using the quicker yielding corn for their whiskeys, and the vineyards were never replanted because of the difficulty in cultivating.
Willy Schwerin of Alexandria Ky established a successful vineyard of European vinifera, French Hybrid, and North American varieties. Grapes were sold to an Ohio Winery.
Carlton and Ann Colcord planted a 20 acre, French Hybrid vineyard on Cain Ridge near Pairs, KY. They started the Cain Run Winery with a couple of professional winemakers, making wine in the French nouveau style. Unfortunately, their efforts were short-lived mostly due to restrictive wine marketing laws, and Kentucky's unfamiliarity to dry wines.
Springhill Vineyards was planted by Eddie O'Daniel in Springfield, KY and became a bonded winery called Springhill Winery.