Just about an hour from Cincinnati, Louisville or Lexington(if you don’t get lost like we did!), Elk Creek is nestled in a cozy spot amongst the hills, surrounded by picturesque farmland and country estates. We pulled up to a beautiful bulding panneled in all wood, and I truly felt like I could be in Napa or Sonoma. Inside is a gorgeous bar and reception room, with plenty of Elk Creek goodies for purchase and available for tasting. We didn’t have much time for tasting until later in the day, because we were there to experience one of Elk Creek’s main attractions: the hunt club.
Although I had never shot a gun in my life, I was excited and nervous to see what all the buzz was about. On the property, surrounded by trellised vines, Elk Creek features a world class sporting clays resort. The course is spread over a 2,500 acre hunting preserve, and with 1.5 million clays thrown per year, there is a lot of serious shooting going on! We got geared up, I was given a few simple instructions and before I knew it, I was yelling “pull!” and pulling the trigger. I had no idea what a thrill it was to shoot! Let’s just say I was consistently trigger happy the rest of the day!
Later, after we were worn out from shooting, we were given a private barrel-tasting tour. We started off trying some 2007 Chardonnay still in the stainless steel holding tank, awaiting bottling. It was crisp, with nice acidity and was showing a touch of oak. ( I asked what kind of oak they were using, and they do have a large marjority french, but also some american oak sourced off of their property!)
We tried a varietal in barrel I had never had before, Chardonel. Chardonel, I learned, is a hybrid of the French varietal Seyval and Chardonnay. It creates a more hardy, easy to grow version of its much beloved parent grape. This wine, however, needed a bit more time in barrel to give it some guts, though I could tell that with that time it could turn into a lovely summer wine.
My favorite wine we tried that day was the 2007 Estate Chambourcin. Right out of barrel it showed an old world nose, some heavy tannin on the palate. As it opened up a bit in the glass, it had wonderful baking spice notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, almost like a blueberry pie right out of the oven. It’s incredible that a wine grown and made in the hills of Kentucky can taste just like some of the best wines I’ve ever had!
We tasted a few more wines, including a Petite Sirah and Sangiovese, both of which were nice. The Sangiovese, however, may have been missing some of the acidity that I’ve come to expect from the varietal, but it would still be an appropriate pairing to a light meal of anitpasti.
Overall, I was impressed with the vineyards(they are currently growing 14 different varietals) and the wines themselves. Everyone I talked to, including the owner, continued to stress that they are really focusing now on quality, and that they hope to only get better with time. The wines I tastest are a testament to that, and I look forward to tasting what they create in the future!