By Kentuckiana – Country Lifestyle Writer
Since my first visit to Bardstown, Kentucky in 2009, I have been fortunate to visit about once a year. One thing I always look forward to is the Southern Hospitality as there is nothing quite like it in the world. Just the thought of a visit to see the amazing rolling hills, hay rolls, free running horses, and the distilleries is enough to make me smile. While all those traits are certainly part of the charm in Kentucky, it is certainly not the heart of the state by any means. The one factor
that keeps me coming back, and never wanting to leave are the people!
Growing up in California it is difficult to imagine arranging to stay at a families house of whom you have never met. Fortunately for me this actually exists in the state of Kentucky. Having worked in wine tasting rooms in Napa and Sonoma you can imagine the different groups of people you meet in a given day. People from all over the world come to visit the breathtaking vineyards and wineries all year round. St. Francis winery in Sonoma where I worked in 2009 was no exception. In fact it was at this popular spot I was introduced to a couple from Bardstown, Kentucky during their trip to wine country one Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2009.
After an hour long conversation with a woman I had never seen, or met in person, I was making plans to visit Kentucky and stay at her house for four days in September 2009. My family, friends, and coworkers thought I was crazy, but for some reason nothing seemed more sane at the time. I remember my first drive into Bardstown like it was yesterday. Such a quaint country town with houses that sat on vast lots of which I have only seen on ranches in more affluent parts of California. I was amazed at how much land was in between each house. Living in California where you’re lucky to have a yard at all, it was quite a refreshing change.
Ann & Jeff were two of the nicest, most hospitable people I had ever met. Not only did they let me stay at their house for 3 days, they allowed me to tag along on their work assignments, which just happened to be centered around various Kentucky Bourbon Festival events. They introduced me to several master distillers at that time including Wild Turkey’s Jimmy Russell, Jim Beam’s Fed Noe, Four Roses’ Jim Rutledge, and Barton’s Ken Pierce. And I was able to attend Tom Bulleit’s induction into the Bourbon Hall of Fame, AND the Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting Gala.
The following year I was asked to create and host a bourbon and food pairing event for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. I called it “Sip & Savor in the Spirit of Old Kentucky”. The KBF paid for my flight, and AGAIN Ann & Jeff offered for me to stay at their house. I was so impressed by the level of kindness and openness offered to me my first two visits to Kentucky. Seven years and four trips later, I still love to share this story with anyone whom has ever considered a trip to bourbon country.