The Wildside Winery Story
It all started in 1997. Neil and Rachel wanted to move to a less frigid climate than Minnesota. Neil had developed a hobby of growing fruit and now wanted more land to plant an orchard and vineyard. So in 1997 they moved to Kentucky and by 1998 they bought a beautiful 30 acre farm in Woodford Co. Kentucky very close to Lexington. The land was bare with nothing but cattle paths and tobacco stubs.
This view shows the area in 1998 where the winery now stands. Early wine club (2000): Neil on the press.
Neil began planting fruit trees and grapes in 1998 even before they began building a house. Neil was interested in growing organically so they got certified as an organic farm and named it Wildside Farm, since organic is like wild. They grew vegetables, strawberries and kept bees and sold honey and the produce at the farmers market. As a home brewer, he thought "maybe I should try to make wine since I will soon have a lot of fruit". Over the next year, Neil made about 10 batches of wine, and read every book and article he could find about winemaking. He took classes and seminars and began to hang around some of the commercial winemakers in the area. Every year he planted more grapes and made more wine. Friends asked if they could help out, and that is how the wine club started. Neil's wine club grew and continued from 1999 until 2004. Neil had begun buying equipment, tanks and barrels and making big batches of wine from increasingly large amounts of grapes. They learned the hard way that organic fruit in Kentucky doesn't work. However, they retained the philosophy of using minimal chemical inputs.
In 2004, Neil and Rachel decided to start a small farm winery. They began the paperwork and had their license by fall, just in time to harvest. They rented a small facility in Lexington while the winery building on the farm was built. The first year they sold at fairs, festivals and farmer's markets. In 2006 they had their first section of their little winery done. One problem: no bathrooms! The porta-potty was clean but none too popular.
This is the first one-room winery building Inside were tanks, barrels, cases, and tasting! Adding on to the deck.
So the next phase began: two bathrooms, a kitchen, a storage room and a small event room.
Adding bathrooms, kitchen and event room The addition under construction The first small event room was done!
The storage was not adequate to hold all the empty and full bottles so they built a storage building. As the winery began holding more events it became clear that they needed more space to hold events. So step one was a covered pavilion completed in April 2012. At the same time they built a little white gazebo.
There's the little wedding gazebo behind pavilion construction Here it's pretty much done ready for events.
This was great for weddings. Now they began to hold more weddings but if the weather turned bad there was now too little space inside to take cover. They began planning an addition to expand their current event room, which was done Jan. 1st, 2013. The event room included a bride's dressing room. Lots of little changes have been made each year since then and we are thinking toward the future.
2016 drone shot of the winery buildings A sketch from 2006 of the winery and vineyards
Norton grapes web