CLERMONT - Bullitt County has become a new mecca for regional wine connoisseurs with its fourth winery opening in five years.
Forest Edge Winery will host its grand opening Saturday, May 21, as the newest member of the Kentucky Winery Association.
Owners Traci and Brance Gould hope to offer a facility that is unique to the other successful area wineries. The company name was based on the building’s proximity to Bernheim Forest, who leases the building.
“We’ve discussed this location for five or six years,” Brance Gould said. “I always thought this would be a perfect location for a winery.”
Forest Edge is located at 1910 Clermont Road at Chapeze Lane, near the Bernheim Forest entrance.
“When the first local winery opened it was on my mind, but just at the conversation stage,” Gould said. “When the others opened and exceeded expectations, that’s when I knew there was a demand.”
Gould was pleased to become part of the “Highway 245 corridor” that includes Bernheim and Jim Beam Distillery.
“We’re happy to be a part of this Highway 245 corridor family,” he said. “We partner with them for likewise visitors. We bring tourism to the area rather than another manufacturing facility.”
The opening of Forest Edge means a winery at four of Bullitt County’s five Interstate 65 exits. Forest Edge (Exit 112) joins Wight-Meyer (Exit 116) in Cedar Grove, MillaNova (Exit 117) in Mount Washington and Brooks Hill (Exit 121).
Local winemaker Raymond “Butch” Meyer said four wineries in one area enhances business for all locations rather than stirring competition.
“It makes Bullitt County a tourism spot,” he said. “Instead of one you have four, so there’s more for the visitor to experience.”
Meyer, an award-winning amateur, is the Forest Edge winemaker. He also works professionally for Brooks Hill and MillaNova.
On top of the winemaking, Meyer is also Traci’s father, making Forest Edge a true local family business. Meyer and his wife, Alma, will help with everyday operations.
“If it wasn’t for Butch this wouldn’t be possible,” said Gould. “He’s done great things for the wine industry in Bullitt County.”
Gould’s brother, Byron, also assisted with preparing the facility for its grand opening.
“He’s helping every evening and every weekend,” Gould said. “We’re a very family-friendly place. This is not a bar.”
Gould stressed the importance of avoiding the assumption that people would view Forest Edge as a drinking establishment. He first approached nearby Vine Hill Baptist Church to address concerns about a neighboring winery location.
“That was important for us,” he said. “I’m concerned for the community.”
As part of the tasting room, Gould mentioned there were no bar stools available.
“It’s a tasting bar only,” he stressed.
Gould said Forest Edge hired local contractors as often as possible to complete work on the facility. He worked with Bernheim to plan landscaping and implement native plants.
The new facility, in keeping with its family-friendly emphasis, is the first in Bullitt County to incorporate a kids’ play room.
“Travelers who want to stop but are afraid to because of their children will have that option,” Gould said. “It’s a place to play, with a TV, LEGOs and coloring books. It’s something for them to do while parents take the tour.”
Gould said local artist Kathy Staples was adding fun murals to the kids’ room walls.
Tours of the winery’s production area will be made available for visitors, Gould said, unless bottling is taking place.
The 1,600 square-foot tasting room includes a corner fireplace and bar-top tables, along with a “comfy sitting” area. Gould mentioned Wi-Fi service was available.
“We want it to be a nice, comforting, welcoming atmosphere,” he said.
Forest Edge remains energy-conscious and aims for self-sufficiency. Gould said solar panels may be added to the roof in the future.
A conference room is available for rent.
Gould said the room was ideal for a business group of 10 to 12, with a PowerPoint screen and 50” plasma TV. A red oak conference table was built in nearby Cox’s Creek.
With all of its eccentricities, Forest Edge keeps a primary focus on its product. Gould said at least eight wines would be ready for purchase at the grand opening.
Among the wines is Summer Daze, a sweet red, and Bluegrass Blend made of catawba and niagara grapes. The most unique wine on the list is the Chocca-Con, a chocolate concord dessert wine.
“Eventually we’ll try to offer more wines that no other wineries in the state have,” Gould said. “We want to try to do what others don’t do.”
Gould has lived in Bullitt County “since second grade” in the Hillview area, attending Brooks Elementary, Hebron Middle and North Bullitt. Traci was born and raised in the Cedar Grove area.
“She has deep community roots,” Gould added.
Traci also works as the Family Resource Center coordinator for both Shepherdsville and Nichols Elementary.
The couple has two children, Savannah (10) and Brennan (5).
“He’s the owner,” Gould said of Brennan. “He’s been here helping us with his tools. He was the inspiration for the kids’ room.”
The Forest Edge grand opening takes place May 21. Hors d’oeuvres will be available between 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Wine tasting is $5.
Forest Edge is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
For more information call (502) 531-9610 or 1-855-355-WINE (9463), or visit www.forestedgewine.com.