Northern Kentucky has a long history with wine that continues to be written today. The area was actually one of the leading wine producers in America in the mid-1800s. Even though the wine production has scaled down a bit, if you’re in the know when it comes to the local wine scene, you already know about the Back Roads Wine Trail of Northern Kentucky. And if you haven’t heard of it (as it’s typically shared by word of mouth), by all means, continue reading.
Not to be confused with the California-based company ‘Backroads’ that arranges traveling, this Back Roads got its name because it's comprised of eight wineries located along picturesque country roads throughout Northern Kentucky. The wineries are selected by a committee dedicated to showcasing some fantastic Kentucky wineries that aren’t far from Cincinnati and are a heck of a lot closer than Napa Valley and Tuscany. The wineries feature award-winning wines with everything from Chardonnay to fruity blends and a whole lot of history behind every glass.
Start the tour by stopping by any of the wineries below where you’ll find a VIP Passport that you can get validated at each winery on the trail. If you stop by each of them, you’ll receive a prize. It doesn’t have to be completed all in one day, and a lot of trail-goers hire a chauffeur or shuttle before hitting the back roads. Here’s a little bit about each one:
ADDRESS: 4465 Augusta Chatham Road (Augusta)
Drive from Cincinnati: A little over 50 minutes southeast
Baker-Bird might be the furthest winery away from Cincinnati on the trail, but it’s well worth the drive to see the historic property, which survived a Civil War battle and dates back to the 1850s. It’s the oldest commercial winery in the country to still have its original vineyard. Explore their 40-foot-high and 90-foot-deep stone wine cellar while sipping on a selection of wines that have won over 150 national and international awards. Dinah Baker is the owner, and you can plan your visit for tastings and cheese plates on weekends from 1 to 5 PM, or for events and private tastings by appointment.
ADDRESS: 6570 Vineyard Lane (Camp Springs)
Drive time from Cincinnati: Less than 30 minutes southeast
Stonebrook is owned by the 5th generation of the Walter Family. It continues to be a family affair with the kids and grandchildren on deck when it comes to making the wine and designing the bottle labels. Their wines have won all kinds of awards, one of which was the winner of the Kentucky Governor’s Cup, Best of Kentucky Award. They’re most popular for all the fruity-flavored wines they make, such as blackberry, mango, and key lime. They can host 65 people for events in the rustic space, which is a renovated farmhouse from 1890. The tasting room is open on Friday from 5 to 9 PM and Saturday & Sunday from 1 to 6 PM. RSVP ahead of time to enjoy one of their weekend dinner events.
ADDRESS: 1616 Spillman Road (Morning View)
Drive time from Cincinnati: Around 30 minutes south
Atwood is a 100-acre farm that is over 100 years old. The former tobacco farm now hosts wine tastings, musical performances on the patio overlooking the gorgeous vineyard, and plenty of parties and get-togethers accompanied by food trucks. Julie & Nelson Clinkenbeard run the family farm that's been a winery for over 10 years. One of the buildings on the property is called the Farmstead, which is a renovated farmhouse from the 1930s where you can throw private events that accommodate 50 guests. Stop by to enjoy five wine tastings for $5 on Friday from 5 to 9 PM, Saturday 1 to 9 PM, and Sunday 1 to 6 PM. And there’s a good chance a friendly cat named Barbie will greet you as you sample tasty reds, whites, wine slushies, and their Vidal Blanc—a best-seller that’s also considered an estate wine since it is completely processed onsite.
ADDRESS: 6685 4 Mile Road (Camp Springs)
Drive time from Cincinnati: Around 20 minutes southeast
Camp Springs is a family farm that owner and winemaker Chris Enzweiler grew up on. He saw an article about the region’s wine-growing past and was inspired to take his shot in the wine business 10 years ago. Chef Carlye Hopper prepares Saturday dinners for guests who reserve a spot. They include four wine tastings per guest with a salad, entrée, and dessert. The meals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are all by appointment. If you’re looking for a great spot for a rehearsal dinner or small wedding, the tasting room holds 60 people. You’ll find artwork by Chris’s aunt and crocheted quilts made by Chris’s mom decorating the space. The Four Mile Blend is one of their most popular wines. They’re open on Friday 5 to 8 PM, and on Saturday & Sunday from 1 to 6 PM.
ADDRESS: 1223 Siry Road (California)
Drive time from Cincinnati: Around 30 minutes southeast
Sitting on the patio at Seven Wells offers breathtaking views for miles. The family-owned farm is now run by Greg Werhman, who made it into a winery in 2009 with his dad and brother when they started experimenting in growing grapes. Racoon Red is the crowd-favorite wine, which is a blend of Chambourcin and Dornfelder grapes that are “loved by humans and raccoons alike.” Catch a concert from their outdoor stage during the summer and fall seasons. They’re open on Friday 5 to 9 PM, Saturday 12 to 8 PM, and Sunday 12 to 6 PM.
ADDRESS: 12449 Decoursey Pike (Morning View)
Drive time from Cincinnati: Around 30 minutes south
Redmans' is a family-friendly farm that has been in the Redmans name since 1941. Owner Doug Redmans' son-in-law dabbled in winemaking with blackberries and other fruits like cherries and raspberries. But don’t let the fruitiness fool you—guests are usually surprised to discover dry fruity wines when they visit. The spot is perfect for fall visits when they host festivals featuring hayrides, pumpkin-picking, and barn animals like goats, pigs, and miniature horses to meet. It's open on Friday from 5 to 9 PM, Saturday 1-9 PM, and Sunday 1-6 PM. And make sure to look both ways before crossing the train tracks at the property’s entrance.
ADDRESS: 14923 Walton-Verona Road (Verona)
Drive from Cincinnati: A little over 30 minutes south
Schoolyard might sound like a strange name for a winery, but nothing about this Verona spot is ordinary. The property functioned as Verona High School from 1914-1973. Owners Gary & Konnie Younts met in Konnie’s hometown and wine region of Rheingau, Germany while Gary was serving in the army over 45 years ago. They recently renovated the rundown school to bring their passion of winemaking to Verona. You’ll find wines named Teacher’s Pet, Recess, and Homecoming in the theme of the building’s past roots. Former classmates return to Schoolyard to reminisce the good ole’ days. The space offers two massive tasting rooms, plenty of patio space, and all kinds of eccentric art pieces to keep things fun. They’re one of the newest wineries to join the Back Roads, and they’re open Thursday through Saturday from 3 to 8 PM.
ADDRESS: 11093 Flagg Springs Pike (California)
Drive time from Cincinnati: Less than 30 minutes southeast.
12 Mile Creek is another new addition to the Back Roads Wine Trail. It’s located in California, KY and runs along 12 Mile Creek (hence the name). You can’t miss the yellow building that sits right on the road’s edge with gorgeous pergolas adorning the front patio. Kevin & Tami Stewart are the owners who originally named the winery in memory of Kevin’s parents, Alice & John—which you’ll still see on their wines’ labels. Kevin learned the winemaking skills from his dad at a young age and continues to rely on family recipes and experiments with new flavors and ideas to make their wine. They feature a variety of wines, specialty drinks, sandwiches, and food spreads with assorted meats, cheeses, and naan. A lineup of musicians performs there regularly, as well. They’re open on Thursday 5 to 8 PM, Friday 5 to 9 PM, and Saturday 1 to 9 PM.
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Check out the photo gallery above to see for yourself what makes each destination on the trail so distinct.